Currently, 17 percent of American homeowners have a smart video surveillance device, and unit sales are expected to double by 2023… The popularity of these devices has led to the “porch pirate gotcha” film genre, a sort of America’s Funniest Home Videos of petty crime.
In the pages of The Atlantic, our sympathies are solicited. Though not for the people being robbed, of course:
The first time Ganave Fairley got busted for stealing a neighbour’s Amazon package, she was just another porch thief unlucky to be caught on tape.
The words first time and unlucky should perhaps be borne in mind.
The deliveries that were dropped daily on her neighbours’ porches caught her attention. At that point, she didn’t know about the cameras or [neighbourhood watch app] Nextdoor. In the months that followed, the police would find a cache of the neighbours’ belongings and mail in her possession… Her sister told me that Fairley generally sold the packages “for a little bit of nothing, just to get high.”
I sense that some of you may not be feeling overly sympathetic.
Ms Fairley - who invokes racism as a cause of her local notoriety, and whose extensive cache of stolen belongings included other people’s credit cards - is described to us at length and in the softest possible light. We learn of her dysfunctional upbringing, her struggles with a mouldy apartment, and her various drug habits, including “trekking daily to a methadone clinic” - a heroic feat, apparently. Ms Fairley’s failure to attend numerous court dates – for petty theft, mail theft, receiving stolen property, possession of heroin, and child endangerment - is, we learn, due to her having “a lot going on” in her life. In at least one instance, it turns out that what was going on was stealing from a resident she’d previously targeted and who, while being robbed again, was waiting to see Ms Fairley appear in court.
The fact that Ms Fairley is gay is mentioned too, as if that were somehow relevant or an explanation for credit card fraud and chronic thieving. We’re also told, touchingly, that she has “family members’ names tattooed on her neck.”