Security camera text message alert shows woman stealing mail

Published: Aug. 13, 2014 at 3:37 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2014 at 7:23 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It's a theft that could have easily remained permanently unsolved.

A Phenix City resident tells News Leader Nine's Dante Renzulli that a stranger stole a package from his doorstep, but with the help of technology and social media, both the crime and the culprit were identified right away.

Miguel Molina was at work Monday when he received a text message from his home security camera.  It's set up to take a picture every time it senses motion outside his front door, and it sends it straight to his phone. Normally, he sees a lot of pictures of his dog, but this time the system really paid off.

He wasn't surprised when the camera sent him a picture of the mailman, because he was expecting a package from his family in Puerto Rico. But he wasn't expecting to see the next picture.

"So thirty minutes later, we find out that somebody else is on our porch grabbing the package and running off with it," said Molina.

His security camera recorded images of the crime in progress. Police think she was following the mailman to see which addresses were getting deliveries.

On Tuesday, August 12, our cameras found a man in the same neighborhood meeting the UPS driver in person rather than take the chance of the package being left unattended.

Molina's stolen package was filled with an exotic fruit native to the Caribbean, South and Central America.

"In Puerto Rico, we call them quenepas.  I wish I could see the look on her face when she opened the box and just saw a big bag of fruits in there.  I'm sure that's not what she was expecting."

Molina's wife posted the still photos to the Neighborhood Watchers group on Facebook and within a few hours, they had a ton of information to give police.

"We got an overwhelming response about who the person is, that she's done it before, what area she lives in, where she went to high school, just all kinds of things about her."

Molina hasn't gotten an update about whether police caught up with the woman yet, but he was really impressed with the help he got from the public and he wants to thank everyone who offered him tips and support.

Police think other people in the neighborhood may be victims too but just don't know it.  Molina said if he didn't get an alert from his camera telling him someone stole his package, he probably would have just blamed the post office for losing it.

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