Montgomery County Police have been able to return over 40 stolen holiday packages to Clarksburg and Germantown residents thanks to good police work, a vigilant neighbor, and an alert UPS delivery driver.
Over the past week, in two different incidents, 5th District officers have arrested suspects for stealing packages that had been delivered to residences in the Clarksburg and Germantown areas. In total, four suspects have been arrested. Investigators have located approximately forty-two stolen packages in the suspects’ possession. Detectives are working to identify all of the victims and return the packages to their rightful owners. Police expect to make more arrests in connection with these cases in the near future.
“It is a fantastic feeling to be able to recover what is really holiday gifts that people have had stolen from their property,” said Commander David Gillespie at a press conference at 5th District headquarters. “We’ve had an increase in the number of packages that have been stolen this year. This is a problem that has been ongoing, and we have made a handful of arrests, but these two sets of criminals are responsible for the majority of the thefts that have been happening around the Germantown community.”
The first set of packages was stolen from residences in the area of Fair Garden Lane in Clarksburg. According to police, on Tuesday, December 13 at approximately 1:27 pm, a resident called the police to report that he had just witnessed two young males stealing packages from the front porches of houses on his street. The resident observed the two males get in a silver Audi driven by a third suspect. A patrol officer who had, three days earlier, responded to the report of a silver Audi stolen from a residence in Clarksburg, relayed this information to officers and provided the stolen vehicle’s tag.
That Audi had been reported stolen from the 23100 block of Newcut Road in Clarksburg on Saturday, December 10.
Approximately seven minutes later, the Clarksburg High School Resource Officer, who was in the school’s parking lot at the time of the call for the stolen packages, observed the stolen Audi drive through the parking lot and drop off a student. The stolen Audi then drove to the dead-end of a nearby street. Officers stopped the vehicle and arrested two 17-year old suspects. The juvenile suspects, from Germantown, were charged with felony auto theft and released to the custody of their parents. Officers located approximately 12 packages in and around the area of the vehicle.
While at this point, only the two suspect apprehended with the stolen property and Audi have been arrested and charged, police said that the third teenager who was dropped off at Clarksburg High School will also face theft charges once all the victims have been identified.
One of the packages that was stolen belonged to Lanre Okusanya of Clarksburg. The package was a new pair of winter boots. Okusanya was at D5 headquarters to pick up his new boots.
“I am very grateful to have these back,” said Okusanya as he carried his three-year-old son Temi. The resident of the Cabin Branch development in Clarksburg said that he’d had heard rumors in his neighborhood about people stealing items from porches but did not think he would be a victim. That was until he got the email from Amazon telling him that his boots had been delivered, although no package was on his porch. “We are so glad that these people were caught and hope that this won’t happen again,” he said. Little Temi was given a gift of a new Teddy bear from Command Gillespie and the MCPD for coming down to the station with his dad.
“This is a result of an alert citizen that has given us the information,” said Gillespie. “None of this would have been possible without someone seeing what happened and calling the police to let us know what occurred.”
The second incident resulted in the arrest of two people, one adult male, and a juvenile female, thanks to an alert UPS delivery driver. The driver noticed that somebody that had been following his truck as he made deliveries in the Germantown area.
On Tuesday, December 20, plain clothes officers were working in Germantown and were attempting to locate, yet another silver Audi. This time the Audi was a silver Audi station wagon that had been following the UPS truck as it made it deliveries.
Police had also received multiple calls from residents the regarding a suspect who was following a delivery truck in the Audi station wagon and stealing packages from homes. Numerous residents had also reported thefts of packages in the same area. One of the stolen packages that had been reported to police contained five picture frames with a $100 bill in each frame.
At about 12:50 p.m. on Tuesday, a plain clothes officer observed the vehicle in the Germantown area. The vehicle drove to the dead-end of a street, and the driver threw multiple boxes into the woods. As the driver, later identified as Marcell Bennett, 18, of the 14100 block of Tatini Drive in Boyds, drove off, he made eye contact with the plain clothes officer.
The vehicle then drove away at a high rate of speed. Officers initiated a traffic stop at the corner of Clopper Road and Cinnamon Drive and Bennett and a female passenger, a 17-year-old from Boyds, were taken into custody.
A search warrant was conducted on the vehicle and approximately 30 packages and the female suspect’s purse were located in the car. Inside the purse, officers located five, $100 bills. It is believed that these five bills were the same as those that had been sent in the stolen picture frame package.
Both Bennett and the juvenile suspect admitted to stealing packages. Bennett was transported to the Central Processing Unit and charged with theft. Bennett was also charged with resisting arrest. The juvenile suspect was charged with theft and released to the custody of her parents. Both suspects will face additional theft charges once all victims are identified.
As a result of this crime spree, one man had his wallet stolen before he even knew it was his wallet.
One of the packages that Bennett and his female accomplice stole was the wallet that Hui Wu had purchased to give to her husband Wei Zhou as Christmas gift. The couple stopped by 5D police headquarters Thursday afternoon to pick up their stolen package.
“We were surprised because we have been living in Germantown for 11 years,” said Wei Zhou, “and this is the first time anything like this has happened, and it was recovered. It is amazing! This morning my wife told me that we may have lost a package. We were worried that it been stolen. But when we got the note we were excited.”
“I was surprised — really surprised to get the note from the police that they had recovered the lost package,” said Hui Wu. “The police officers are excellent. Awesome!!”
Investigators also found return item receipts in the female’s purse that indicate that these suspects had also been stealing packages and returning the stolen items to stores for compensation.
“We have to be valiant,” said Commander Gillespie about the rash of package thefts. “We want people to be smart when they order packages. You can have the package delivered to work, or a neighbor’s house, or make sure you are home when the package is going to be delivered.”
The Montgomery County Police offer the following tips to safeguard packages:
Choose A Delivery Address Wisely
Know When Your Package Will Be Delivered – Sign Up For Notification Services
Require A Signature
Provide Delivery Instructions
Insure Your Package
The Montgomery County Police Department urges residents who shop online to follow these guidelines to help ensure their packages arrive safely.
Top: Capt. David Gillespie, Commander of the 5th District – Germantown, with all the packages recovered as the result of four arrests in the last two weeks.
Next: Clarksburg resident Lanre Okusanya and his three-year-old son, Temi, stopped by the 5th District Police HQ on Wednesday to pick his boots which were stolen off of his porch last week.
Next: MCPD District 5 Detective Jesse Dickensheets returning a stolen package to its owner in Clarksburg, these packages were located in the stolen Audi on December 13. Photo courtesy MCPD
Next: Some of the stolen packages located in the stolen Audi on December 13. Photo courtesy MCPD
Next: Germantown residents Hui Wu and her husband Wei Zhou and the wallet which was to be Wei’s Christmas gift, but was stolen earlier this week.
Next: Montgomery County Police made a traffic stop on a sliver Audi station wagon at the corner of Clopper Road and Cinnamon Drive. Police found the car packed with stolen packages. Photo by Germantown Pulse.
Next: Police arrested Marcell Bennett, 18, of Boyds. Photo courtesy MCPD
Next: Some of the stolen packages located during the December 20 package theft case.
Photos by Germantown Pulse, unless otherwise noted.