Thieves swiping Christmas packages from porches have become unfortunately common, but a recent theft from a Utah dad's front stoop could have led to dire consequences

By Hilary Shenfeld
December 23, 2017 04:21 PM
Credit: Brittnee Fisher Photography

Thieves swiping Christmas packages from porches have become unfortunately common, but a recent theft from a Utah dad’s front stoop could have led to dire consequences.

Earlier this week, so-called “porch pirates” in Riverdale, Utah, nabbed a 3-month supply of anti-rejection medications that 4-year-old boy Austin relies on to stay alive after he underwent a kidney transplant, his father, Cody Taylor, tells PEOPLE.

“I hope they get sick. That’s the vindictive side of me,” Taylor says. “They don’t know who they’re hurting with their actions.”

Taylor, 28, a single dad to son Austin and daughter Destanee, 5, says he panicked after realizing that the $7,500 worth of drugs were nabbed from the porch of his home — and he prepared to go to the bank to take out a loan to cover the replacement cost.

“My mind went blank with shock,” he says. “I was so stressed out.”

Within a few hours, however, the pharmacy that shipped the medications got in touch with Taylor’s insurance company, which agreed to cover the cost of a new supply, he says.

Austin Taylor
| Credit: Brittnee Fisher Photography

Austin was born full-term but with a number of medical problems, including just 8 percent kidney function and in stage 5 kidney failure, the most severe level, Taylor says. Doctors feared he would never talk, walk or eat and didn’t expect him to live long.

Austin Taylor
| Credit: Cody Taylor

But after three months in the neonatal intensive care unit, Austin had improved enough to go home. At age 2, the boy received a kidney transplant, a huge relief to his divorced father because the new organ significantly improved both his daily functioning and his life expectancy, he says.

To keep his body from rejecting the kidney, the pre-schooler takes two medications, a liquid and a powder, that are delivered every 90 days in a large, 20-pound brown box from a Utah pharmacy. His dad, who works full-time at a gas turbine engine company, mixes them up and uses a syringe to insert them into his boy’s feeding tube three times a day, he says.

Taylor got a delivery notification for a new supply on Monday but when he stepped outside 20 minutes later to retrieve it, the box was gone.

Austin Taylor
| Credit: Cody Taylor

“People follow around the trucks this time of year hoping to get lucky,” Taylor says. “They probably thought it was something shiny…Maybe they thought it was something they could get high off.”

With more people doing a major chunk of their shopping online, porch thefts have been a growing problem for years. Almost 26 million Americans reported a holiday package getting snatched off their porch or doorstep, according to a new survey from Insurance Quotes, up from about 23.5 million in 2015.

But Taylor’s package was exponentially more vital than his typical deliveries of toys, gaming supplies, household goods or even other medical necessities, he says.

From left: Destanee, Cody and Austin Taylor
| Credit: Cody Taylor

“Please bring it back, I won’t call the police,” Taylor posted on Facebook. “I won’t put out a camera I just need it back for him to not reject his kidney and go to the hospital.”

But now with the replacement medications on their way, his story has a “happy ending,” Taylor says. “My son is safe.”’

After hearing about the situation, a couple of strangers also donated $600 worth of presents and gift cards, and a company called the Porch Locker is installing a lock box for future deliveries, he says.

“I actually broke down in tears that it worked out, and I’m not a crier,” Taylor says. “This has reminded me of what Christmas is all about.”