Watchful neighbor stops package Grinch

SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane man caught a real-life "Grinch" red-handed stealing packages from his neighbor's porch on Monday.

The man caught the incident on camera, and, as of Tuesday evening, the video had been shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook.

Hector Martinet saw the thief in his neighborhood and jumped into action, running out of his house without shoes or a shirt. He successfully apprehended the man and watched him until police arrived to arrest him.

It didn't take long for Martinet to realize the man walking down his street on Monday morning was up to no good.

"When he passed the house, I noticed he was looking from side to side like you would if you were window shopping at a mall," Martinet said. "He was actually checking porch to porch."

Martinet saw the man grab a package from his neighbor's porch. He ran outside -- in just his sweat pants -- called police and started recording, hoping to get a picture of the thief's face. The thief's face is not shown in the video because Spokane Police say he may have mental health issues.

In the video, Martinet confronts the man, telling the man to put the packages back on the neighbor's porch, while he calls Spokane Police. The thief tried to leave, but Martinet wouldn't let him, staying near the man for about a half hour until police arrived.

"I was angered in the moment and I didn't want any physical confrontation, so I elevated my tone," Martinet explained, referring to the profanities in the video.

Martinet's neighbor Bob Callihan came out to help.

"I came in the house and got him a pair of shoes and a shirt so he could stand there and wait for the police to come," Callihan said.  

Callihan said he is grateful for Martinet's quick thinking.

"Hector handled it really well and waited until the police came," he said.

But, Martinet says, he was just trying to be a good neighbor in the spirit of Christmas.

"I think everyone in the world would've done the same thing I've done," he said. "I think people are pretty well fed up of the crime and being taken advantage of."

As of Tuesday evening, Hector's video had been watched almost 100,000 times. Many people are thanking Hector for what he did, but he says he's having trouble accepting the compliments. His mind is on his son who is very sick in the hospital with Lupus complications. On his Facebook page, Martinet asked those thankful for what he did to consider helping his son.

If you're expecting packages in the mail, here are 4 tips to help prevent mail theft:

  • The Spokane Police Department says it is important to know when your mail will arrive, so it is not left out for a long time. If you know you won't be home, consider asking a neighbor to bring your mail in.
  • Buy insurance for your packages.
  • Make sure there's a signature required for anyone who is picking the package up.
  • If you do become a victim of mail theft, report it to Crime Check at (509)456-2233.