Homeowner's detective work helps police catch porch pirate, authorities say

Video surveillance, social media lead to arrest, police say

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

LEESBURG, Fla. - A Leesburg couple used social media and quick detective work to help police catch the man who authorities said stole packages from their porch.

Lauren Bigham told Leesburg police officers that while she was out grocery shopping Saturday she received a notification from Amazon that several packages had been delivered to her home. However, when the woman arrived home, the packages on her doorstep were open and empty. She also said several packages were missing altogether, according to the arrest report.

Bigham said that the items stolen included mattresses folded in boxes, twin-size bunk beds, a copper dish set, frying pans and Xbox video games.

The homeowners reviewed video surveillance captured by their Ring doorbell device and saw a man, later identified as Daniel Colin Kelley, 43, walking up to their door, knocking on it and then picking up the packages, according to the report.

A red sedan could also be seen in the video, police said.

Bigham posted a screen grab from the video to Facebook, hoping to identify the man in the video.

"I took a screen shot of the video and it was a really clear picture of his face so I was hoping maybe someone would share it," Bigham said. "It was subsequently shared over 900 times and within two hours I had several people message me with the man's name and even his address."

A woman who said the man was Kelley contacted one of the victims. The victim then found Kelley’s Facebook profile and saw the similarities between the video surveillance and the suspect, according to the report.

After the homeowners presented the new information to Leesburg police, authorities confronted Kelley at his Okahumpka home. The suspect told deputies he saw the victim’s Facebook post, but that he knocked on her door, and those of several other homes in the area, to ask if she or anyone else needed any yard work done, as he was looking for work.

Kelley’s home is in the Lake County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction, and deputies were granted a search warrant. Deputies said they found several items that matched the stolen games from the packages.

Before deputies could search his home, Kelley had already contacted a lawyer and a bail bondsman “far before it was even determined that he would be arrested,” according to the police report.

Kelley is charged with grand theft and was booked into the Lake County Jail on Sunday. His bail was original set at $2,000, but a judge raised it $10,000 during his first appearance.

Authorities are looking into the possibility of more victims targeted by porch pirates during the holiday season.

Leesburg Police Department spokesman Lt. Joe Lozzi said people considering targeting homes should remember more homeowners are using surveillance equipment.

"I would caution them that there are countless neighborhood watch groups so whether they have cameras on their front doors or good neighbors," Lozzi said. "There are many eyes upon you if you continue to commit crimes of this nature."

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