Wheeling Police Nab Pirates Of The Porch

Photo Provided This is the message that two local men received when they opened a package they reportedly stole from a porch in Center Wheeling during “Operation Porch Pirates.”

WHEELING — The Wheeling Police Department decided to knock the “Grinches” out of Christmas and stop some thieves in the process.

The department recently conducted an operation in various areas of the city looking for thieves stealing packages left on porches. Over the past several years during the Christmas season, reports of package thefts have increased, prompting the operation.

“Operation Porch Pirates” took place the week and a half leading up to Christmas, with officers investing more than 40-hours of surveillance.

Two people were caught by undercover officers and are now facing theft charges.

Scott Ruttencutter, 37, and Casey Higgs, 29, both of Wheeling were caught stealing a package left by Wheeling Police officers on a person’s porch Dec. 20 in Center Wheeling.

When the men opened the package, the box was empty other than paper with a printed message that stated, “Merry Christmas, Wheeling Police Department.”

Wheeling Police Department spokesman Philip Stahl said, “The Wheeling Police Department is dedicated to attacking the ongoing theft problem along with many other crimes. As officer staffing levels improve, more pro-active operations similar to this will be conducted. Criminals will need to think twice before committing crimes of opportunity, and WPD hopes operations like this will act as a deterrent.”