NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News mother is fed up with brazen a porch pirate who is stealing her at-home dialysis treatments.

“They’re taking time off my life pretty much,” said Octavia Prunty.

Prunty and her family have lived in their apartment since 2015 and say they haven’t had any issues until this past October.

“The first time I was just kind of hanging out, waiting. Thinking maybe it was just the delay, but a police officer came and knocked on my door. He hands me a box with a packing slip in it, but no items. And that’s how I found out my packages were being stolen.”

“Around 15 … yeah about 15 packages have been stolen,” said Prunty. They aren’t just any packages.

Both she and her 8-year-old son have medication sent to the house. Prunty’s medication is life-saving supplies to help with her dialysis treatments at home.

“My 8-year-old, he has autism. The only thing he really understands is that mommy is sick, she doesn’t feel good,” explained Prunty. So, when I don’t have these things I’m supposed to take like I’m supposed to, I do get very sick. He doesn’t understand why mommy can’t play with him today. So it’s really hard. It’s a lot that they’re taken from me and from him.”

If she misses too many treatments, she could be hospitalized or even removed from the transplant list she’s already spent four years on. “You’re taking time off my life. You’re taking my son’s mom quicker than we would like. I’ve been on a transplant list for years. If I get sick enough … they will take me off the list because I wouldn’t be a candidate. So, you know, you’re pretty much ruining my life right now.”

When her neighbor came forward with video of the thief, Prunty says it was a welcomed surprise.

They turned the video over to law enforcement and shared it to their Facebook pages. It’s one of a handful of steps that can be taken.

10 On Your Side sat down with United States Postal Inspector and Team Leader M.J. Romano to learn what people can do to keep from falling victim to porch pirates to begin with.

  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. Never leave mail in your mailbox overnight.
  • If you are going to be away, have a friend or neighbor retrieve your mail or submit a Hold Mail request at your local Post Office or by clicking here.
  • When possible, deposit your outgoing mail at a Post Office.
  • Use services such as Signature Confirmation or Registered Mail which offer additional security.
  • Never send cash in the mail.  If you send a check or a gift card, maintain the check or gift card number/receipt so they can be tracked if determined to be lost or stolen.
  • If you have concerns about security in your neighborhood, consider installing an approved lockable mailbox or obtaining a Post Office Box at your local Post Office.

Insp. Romano says the U.S. Postal Service processes over 187 million pieces of mail each day and very few of these mail pieces are reported as lost or stolen. Around the holiday shipment season, there can be a spike of porch pirates because it’s a crime of opportunity.

If you believe your mail has been stolen or tampered with, they can report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by calling 877-876-2455 or click here.

“Promptly remove your mail from your mailbox each night,” said Romano. “And that includes packages from your porch. If you’re not going to be home, have a friend or relative pick up those packages. If you see someone suspicious or meddling with someone’s package, mail, we invite you to the local police immediately.”

10 On Your Side’s Marielena Balouris also spoke with the Retail Alliance for advice just last week.

“Porch pirates, they’re not going to go away, so we have to be smarter than them,” said Kylie Ross Sibert, VP of Corporate Communications for Retail Alliance. “We have to find those alternate ways to avoid getting things stolen from you, especially around this holiday season when you have some wonderful gifts coming in.”

Ross Sibert suggests sending packages to work, if possible, or taking advantage of buying online and picking up in-store. She says neighbors have to look out for one another.

For now, Octavia will make the forty-minute drive each way to pick up her dialysis supplies herself – rather than take the chance of missing another treatment.

“You have to realize what you’re doing in people’s lives. You know not everything can’t be replaced. If I die? I can’t be replaced.”

Stay with for more local news updates.