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Sandy Journal

Sandy honors police officers for busting ‘porch pirate’ ring

Mar 31, 2023 10:57AM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart

Mayor Monica Zoltanski and members of the Sandy City Council pose with members of the Crime Suppression Unit who were being honored for excellent work. (Photo courtesy Sandy City Public Affairs & Public Information)

Sandy City’s Police Department ended 2022 on a high note. 

On Dec. 7, six officers from the Crime Suppression Unit used doorbell camera footage and tips obtained through social media, including the license plate number from a vehicle, to identify and locate seven individuals suspected to be involved in a porch pirate package theft ring. 

“They were on the way to a citywide holiday luncheon when a call came in saying that a vehicle they had identified was located,” Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski said during a special recognition ceremony in February. “They made a beeline for where they were needed and worked together under the direction of Chief (Greg) Severson.”

The officers quickly mobilized after learning of multiple thefts and located one of the suspect’s cars meeting up with another vehicle in the parking lot of a Walmart in Midvale. Officers ultimately arrested seven people from both cars and recovered stolen packages along with illegal narcotics and weapons, according to Severson. Several of the suspects had outstanding felony warrants. 

“It was quite remarkable because it wasn’t like somebody just handed them the vehicle description and said they’re going to be at this place at this time,” Zoltanski said. “No, all of these pieces of the puzzle were put together through proactive policing, community policing, monitoring what’s happening in online groups, and all the other resources our department has. It’s a little bit of information here, a little bit there, and then talking to our community and then going out and making the arrests happen.” 

Chief Severson described the Crime Suppression Unit as being like the Swiss army knife of the police department.

“This unit is tasked with amazing things,” Severson said. “They take care of our parks, they do homeless outreach, they do fugitive apprehension, they do gang enforcement. You name it, they take care of it—including package theft. I’m just tremendously proud of what this unit is doing and all the things they’ve accomplished.”

Zoltanski recognized the officers involved in stopping the theft ring during the Sandy City Council meeting on Feb. 14. The officers included Jacob Olsen, Michael Piekarczyk, Steven Pomeroy, Michael Thornton, Graham Tinius and Sgt. Jacob Knight. 

“There’s not one neighborhood in our city who hasn’t been affected by property crime,” Zoltanski said. “Since the pandemic more and more of us are relying on online purchases, and who hasn’t felt the frustration of porch pirates and packages coming up missing? You can’t talk to any crime watch group without that being the chief complaint in Sandy.”  

The mayor added that Sandy has been working on education for crime prevention in addition to enforcement. Residential burglaries in general decreased by 53% in Sandy during 2022, according to a press release from Sandy City Public Affairs. 

In February, Severson was awarded Chief of the Year at the Black and Blue Gala put on by the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary (FOPA) and Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS). 

Tips from the Sandy Police Department on the city blog in fall 2022 recommended tracking your packages in order to anticipate at home deliveries. It also recommended reporting suspicious activity believed to be package theft to Sandy Police at 801-568-7200.

“Is it the crime of the century? No,” Zoltanski said. “But is it important to every single neighborhood in our city? You bet.”