(INDIANAPOLIS) — An accused thief’s curious look at a surveillance camera led to his arrest for allegedly stealing a FedEx package for an Indianapolis porch.
Daniel Nelms, 21, was taken into custody and charged with one count of level 6 felony on Wednesday night.
Daniel Dillon said he had been expecting a package of a pair of $300 diamond earrings from Zale.com for his wife. He never received the package, but when he checked the delivery status on FedEx, it said the package had been delivered already. The Dillons then checked their surveillance video footage.
The crystal clear video gave Dillon quite a shock. Only two minutes after the delivery man dropped off the package, a man ran over to the porch and grabbed the box in between the inner and outer doors, Dillon told ABC News. The man also looked directly into the high-quality camera lens before grabbing the package.
The thief could be seen shaking the package, seemingly trying to figure out what was inside. He then ripped open the package and took a closer look at the earring box before heading back to his car.
“My wife and my mother-in-law were in the backyard with our four dogs when this happened,” Dillon said. “I felt very violated.”
“How stupid and brave do you have to be to do something like this in broad daylight?” Dillon asked. “If he just snatched the box and left, we probably wouldn’t have found him.”
Dillon posted the surveillance video on his Facebook page, hoping that his friends could help him identify the suspect. Within a day, the video was shared more than 3,000 times, and he received numerous messages from strangers, telling him they had also been victims of this man.
When Police Officer Larry Craciunoiu watched the surveillance video, he said he recognized the suspect.
“He’s been known in the past to be involved in burglaries, thefts and other criminal activities,” Craciunoiu told ABC News. “I have a pretty good working knowledge of him.”
“It was an extremely high-quality video,” Craciunoiu said. “The cameras were positioned perfectly.”
“I approached him and I told him: ‘Before we waste a lot of time, do you want to talk about this FedEx package?'” Craciunoiu said.
“He first said: ‘I didn’t know anything about it,'” the officer said. “Then I showed him the picture of him staring at the camera.”
“He laughed, and said: ‘I’m not stupid,'” Craciunoiu said. “I asked him: ‘’Why did you still steal this stuff then?'”
Nelms refused to talk about the case, Craciunoiu said.
“We are working on another case of a suspect who broke into a lady’s Cadillac in the same area on that day,” Craciunoiu said. “We have pretty good evidence that he [Nelms] was the one who did it.”
Craciunoiu said Nelms also has two warrants for theft.
“It was pretty clear that he was following the FedEx truck. It was very intentional,” the cop said.
Dillon said he has not received the earrings back. He has checked local pawn shops, but had no luck.
Dillon said he has contacted Zale.com, and the website said it needs 10-14 days to investigate this case.
“The website automatically offers signature-required shipping for anything over $100,” Dillon said. “But when the package was shipped, the delivery man just shoved it between the two doors in the security video. He didn’t buzz at all.”
“I hope either Zale.com or FedEx will take care of this,” Dillon said.
Brandon Nelms has not entered a plea yet.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Alicia Walters, KSL.com
Kelsey Schwab, Deseret News
Ed Lavandera, Boris Sanchez, Madison Park and Holly Yan, CNN
Eric Bradner, Jeff Zeleny and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN