Stolen car leads to porch pirate arrest

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The odds aren’t good that if someone steals something off your porch – you’ll ever see it again. But more and more, the small cameras and smartphone apps that people are using as doorbells and in their security systems are helping police and the public track down thieves.

From the old-school method of "let’s steal mail from a mailbox and hope to get lucky" to this generation’s technique "let’s steal packages from people’s front doors" – both are on full display this month in Omaha.

Sarpy County Deputy Nick Palmer now recognizes the woman accused of stealing a package from his front door. His doorbell camera got a good look.

“I’ve dealt with her personally here at the jail,” Deputy Palmer told 6 News. “It’s a small world.”

That’s because Deputy Palmer works at the Sarpy County Jail.

“I think it was a coincidence that she picked up a package on the one place on the street with a doorbell camera – and I just happened to be a cop she stole from,” said Palmer.

Days later Omaha police arrested 23-year-old Chiann Lang-Bridgeford of Papillion. They said tips led to the arrest thanks to the doorbell photo posted online.

Not only is she facing misdemeanor charges including the porch theft – but a much more serious felony. She’s accused of stealing a car left running at a gas station two Saturdays ago. According to an arrest affidavit, Omaha police found the 2017 Ford Fusion at the Motel 6 at 109th and J and it’s where Deputy Palmer’s porch package was recovered.

Officers say the suspect also told them it was her in the surveillance video stealing the car.

So one accused porch pirate is in custody but the “old schoolers” – spotted stealing mail in northwest Omaha for the last few weeks – are still on the run. Perhaps someone will recognize this woman as well, and let investigators know about it. The suspected porch package thief has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

If you recognize the mailbox thief, contact Omaha Crimestoppers at 444-STOP. Your information could be eligible for a reward.