Packages stolen off Newport doorsteps

NEWPORT BEACH — The Grinch who tried to steal Christmas has been arrested, Newport Beach police announced Thursday.

After receiving complaints from residents that their holiday packages delivered to their doorsteps were being stolen in recent days, Newport Beach police began surveillance in the neighborhood around Fullerton Avenue and El Modena Avenue.

And sure enough, the alleged grinch, Melanie Kathleen Astin, made an appearance.

Police arrested Astin, 42, from Newport Beach, after watching her follow a delivery truck and stop as it made a delivery.

Residents believed she was following delivery trucks because the thefts happened within minutes of each other on adjacent streets. One family set up a surveillance camera which caught a woman going up to the door and stealing one of their boxes, KTLA reported.

The family said the theft occurred right after the United Parcel Service driver dropped off the package.

Milda Goodman, who lives on Aliso Avenue, said someone stole a Christmas present she had ordered from on Monday.

"It's a bummer. I was a little panicked at first because it was a gift for my nephew," she said.

She said all she found on her porch was an empty delivery box addressed to her neighbor. The neighbor whom it was addressed to also received an empty box, which was addressed to Goodman.

"They were using the empty boxes to cover like they're making deliveries," Goodman said.

In her case, she lost a $40 "Star Wars"-themed Lego set.

"For me, they picked the wrong day. I had more stuff coming the days after that was bigger and worth more."

When police arrested Astin, they found more stolen gifts inside the car, officials said. She was booked on suspicion of grand theft.

If you have information regarding these thefts, call Det. Rick Henry at (949) 644-3786 or call (800) 550-NBPD.

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