Community stepped in to help El Cajon family find package thief

EL CAJON (KUSI) – Packages were snatched from a family’s front porch in El Cajon and it was all caught on camera. When all hope seemed lost, the community stepped up in a big way.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been more angry,” said Sean Rivera. “We watched her go by and I said, ‘She’s gonna come up on our front porch,’ and she did. Just sitting there watching it right here and I couldn’t do anything but watch.” 

Just last week, a woman and her dog waltzed up to a driveway in El Cajon and took four packages from the Rivera’s front porch at 8:30 in the morning while they were on vacation.

“I think she was walking the dog down my street and saw the stuff and was like, ‘Oh, well it doesn’t look like anyone’s home,” said Robbyn Rivera. “It’s a Sunday morning but decided it was more important to her than it was to us.”

The packages she helped herself to included birthday gifts for their two daughters, dresses and custom-ordered bath bombs. In all, it was close to $400 worth of merchandise.

Most importantly, the suspect stole prescription medications for her husband. He is a disabled veteran who receives specific medications in the mail from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The bag clearly said VA medical center. the pill bottle said VA medical center,” said Robbyn. “It’s clear where they came from. i don’t think they cared obviously.”

In Robbyn’s words, items can be replaced, but her family’s sense of security is gone.

“I felt kind of violated,” said Sean. “The packages got stolen, but also two feet away is the wall to my children’s room and I’m big on home protection.”

The Rivera’s are not the type of family to sit around and wait for something to happen.

They took to social media, posted a clear, still screen shot of the suspect, and asked for the community’s help.

The post went viral locally in just a matter of six hours. That is when it happened.

“Overwhelmingly, the best part about it was the community coming together and people were not hesitant to say, ‘I think I know this person.’ said Robbyn. “I was inundated with pictures, names vehicle descriptions and people were trying to help.”

Stephanie Wainscott has never met the Riveras, but she felt urged to help them.

“Instantly I knew who it was,” said Wainscottl. “I knew exactly who she was. I started to send Robbyn messages.”

The Rivera’s started putting the pieces together, collaborated with the community and were able to find the suspects that same night. They were able to get a majority of their belongings back.

Even though they have not yet met — Robbyn is thankful Stephanie and the entire East County community.

“When I messaged her and she actually knew it was them, she was like, ‘I owe you,’ but really she owes me nothing,” said Wainscott. “We owe it to her to come together and help her.”

“She did the right thing and it’s not always easy to do the right thing, especially because some of the people that came forward knew the family,” said Robbyn.

Robbyn said she was with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department in Lakeside when they found the suspect in a car late Monday night. They found and recovered 75% of the Rivera’s items. The prescriptions, however, were gone.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department told KUSi this is an active investigation and they can’t comment on specifics.

“I put it out there. they are still at large,” said Robbyn. “If we can all be vigilant and see them around town and say, ‘Hey, I know who you are get out of my neighborhood.’ Eventually they’ll move along.”

The Rivera’s have also set up new alerts on all the cameras around the house to detect any movement. They said they may also put a fence around their home.

“I think East County has this reputation of being not the best area of town and really going downhill in recent years,” said Robbyn. “So to find out the community really wants to make it a better place is very motivating to me because I’m raising my kids here and I don’t have any intention of leaving.”

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