A suspected “porch pirate,” accused of using his 11-year-old to help him steal packages from porches in Burlington, Vermont, appeared in court Thursday morning — prepared to admit to his alleged crimes.
“I’m going to enter ‘guilty’ today,” 33-year-old Jackie Walters told Judge Martin Maley. “I was all on camera.”
Walters was caught on homeowners’ surveillance cameras, according to police, stealing holiday deliveries from porches in Burlington.
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And worse: investigators said Walters brought his 11-year-old along, handing those stolen packages to the child to hold for him.
Detectives said Walters would ride a bike with a tow-behind wagon to haul away boxes.
According to court paperwork, the stolen merchandise included a kombucha brewing kit and an Amazon Echo.
Despite the suspect’s apparent willingness to admit to the thefts, Judge Martin Maley wasn’t ready to accept the rare guilty plea at arraignment—to charges of petit larceny and contributing to the delinquency of a child.
The prosecutor told Maley she still needs more info from an alleged victim, so the judge said the case should take more time.
Judge Maley ended up entering a not guilty plea on behalf of Walters to the five charges the alleged porch pirate is facing.
“No comment, thank you,” Walters said after the court hearing.
Initially, Walters wanted to represent himself in the court proceedings, but Maley encouraged him to secure a defense attorney for future hearings.
In court paperwork, police said Walters told them he turned to theft more than a year ago, after losing his job, and that he now has an “an addiction to stealing.”
The alleged use of a child as an unwitting accomplice is what has the Burlington Police Department most upset, said Deputy Chief Jon Murad.
“The case has been referred to [the Vermont Department for Children and Families], and I’m hopeful that they will approach it with the same sensibility I have, which is one of great concern for a juvenile who’s been exposed to things no child should be exposed to,” Murad told necn & NBC 10 Boston.
Murad noted that some of the most concerning aspects of the allegations against Walters involve claims he brought the child out after midnight, and during cold weather.
Matthew Gilbert, who lives in the area of the alleged package thefts, said he, too, was discouraged to hear about the case through news reports.
“Christmas is one of the worst times to hear about it,” Gilbert said. “It’s supposed to be the year of giving–not taking–if you catch my meaning.”
Jackie Walters is scheduled to be back in court next in mid-January.