Tired of having packages stolen from his front door, a resident in San Diego's Chula Vista area caught a group of teenage thieves in the act by hiding in some bushes and jumping out just as the teens were grabbing more loot, police said.
Turns out, the teens had accumulated quite the collection of lifted items – and not just from the man who caught them red-handed.
According to police, Chad Bear set up the sting to bust the teens in front of his home in the 1400-block of Trailwood Avenue on Thursday. One day earlier, Bear learned his neighbor had found some packaging material in his yard with Bear’s address on it.
Bear quickly realized the U.S. Postal Service had been delivering packages to his home, only he wasn’t getting them. Someone had stolen the packages, unwrapped them, taken the items inside and thrown the packing material into his neighbor’s yard.
With another delivery en route, Bear decided to hide in the bushes across the street from his home to see who would take the package.
“I just wanted to make sure the boxes delivered to me Thursday didn’t get stolen too," he told NBC 7.
So, he had it all planned out.
“I was lying down here and basically had my face in the opening [behind this bush] so I could
see," he said.
With a green baseball bat in hand, and his pit bull, Dozer, by his side, Bear staked out the area, waiting for the thieves to strike again.
“The bat was to protect me in case they tried jumping me, if there were a couple of them and they got brave," he said. "The dog was a deterrent so they wouldn’t run because he'll run faster than them.”
After waiting for more than two hours, Bear saw four teenagers – all between 15 and 16 years old – walk past his house and grab the package from his porch. As the teens were nabbing the package, Bear jumped from his hiding place and ordered the teens to stay put while he called 911.
“I came around the corner with the dog and told them get down. I told them, 'Don’t even think about running,'" he recalled.
When police arrived, they took the juveniles into custody.
The Chula Vista Police Department said the teens were found to be in possession of other items believed to be stolen as well, including toy airsoft guns.
Some of those items were stolen from Bear’s neighbors, including Charleston Yambao, who said the incident left him feeling uneasy.
“It’s a little scary because they jumped our fence,” said Yambao.
The teens were questioned by police and charged with possession of stolen property. They were then released to their parents. During the questioning process, officers recovered even more property believed to be stolen by the teens (see gallery to left).
Investigators believe the accused thieves got a hold of other items in a similar way, possibly by stealing packages from front doors.
Their haul included stolen toys, silver Canadian coins, vitamins, Kenneth Cole dress shoes, cell phones, Canon camera accessories and an LED picture light. Officers also discovered a stolen fireproof suit meant to be used while working on motorcycles which also happened to belong to Bear.
He had ordered the $160 suit but had never received it in the mail. It was returned to him by police, along with other belongings.
As for the rest of the stolen goods, the Chula Vista Police Property Crimes Division is now in possession of the items.
Police are asking citizens to call and claim their belongings if they recognize an item they may have ordered in the mail but never received. If that’s the case, contact Det. Joe Page at (619) 409-3875 or the Chula Vista Police Department non-emergency line at (619) 691-5151 and ask for Property Crimes.
Bear hopes they learned their lesson.
"If you're teenage kids and you're doing this kind of stuff, you're going to get caught," he said.