MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’ve seen criminals caught on surveillance cameras before, stealing packages off doorsteps. But this time, the package thief left something behind for the item’s owner: a thank you note.

Hilary Smith bought a Christmas gift for her boss. But when she returned home to retrieve it, the package was missing.

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“I looked down and there was a piece of notebook paper folded neatly on the top step. So I picked it up, read it, it basically was a ‘thank you’ note for letting me steal your package,” Smith said.

She couldn’t believe the words she was reading, with the author referring to themselves as “The new owner of your package.”

“I do appreciate a nicely-crafted ‘thank you’ note, but this is ridiculous. I was angry and confused and quite flabbergasted someone would actually leave a ‘thank you’ note when they steal a package,” Smith said.

She immediately posted on social media, where the note gained steam. This caught the attention of St. Paul Police.

“It’s something we’ve never seen before, and I don’t know what to chalk it up to. It’s so unheard of,” Sgt. Mike Ernster said.

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Police wondered if others got a note, and ask people to report these kinds of thefts.

“So we want people to report crimes as they occur so we can keep track of them and hopefully solve them,” Ernster said.

Smith hopes the decoy package now on her steps, filled with what she describes as “a gift from her dog,” will stop thieves and help others have a happy holiday.

“It’s brazen and arrogant,” Smith said. “Just making sure we raise awareness that this is really happening, and I don’t want people to have their holiday season wrecked to have something big stolen from them.”

Police say there is a higher number of package thefts this time of year. Since Oct. 1, 94 package thefts have been reported in St. Paul.

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Call the non-emergency number at 651-291-1111 if you suspect a theft.

Jennifer Mayerle