A Grinch nearly spoiled the holiday season for Brookline residents on Tuesday, but he was thwarted by local police who arrested him for allegedly stealing delivery packages outside residences, authorities said.
The suspect, later identified as Argenys Ortiz, was first spotted in the area of Pleasant and Parkman streets tossing an empty package over a fence, Brookline cops said in an incident report and a statement headlined “The Grinch Who Almost Stole Christmas.”
But in a phone interview, Ortiz, 36, of Roxbury, insisted he didn’t intend to steal anyone’s gifts. He said the packages were opened or partially opened on the street and by a dumpster, so he assumed the recipients didn’t want the contents and had left them out for passersby.
“I figured it was okay to take them, which wasn’t the right thing to do, unfortunately,” Ortiz said. “It was a bad mistake. ... My family’s kind of shocked, because this is not me. I’m not that type of person.”
He said he regularly travels around Greater Boston looking for objects left out on the street as trash.
“I go around bartering and getting free stuff,” Ortiz said. “I don’t steal. I wasn’t brought up like that. I have three beautiful kids.”
Police weren’t convinced.
A witness pointed out Ortiz’s vehicle and said he was wearing a black jacket and an orange hat.
“Officers located the suspect who stated that he was in the area looking to pick up free items left out for trash,” the release said. “The suspect told officers that they could look inside his car.”
The car’s interior could have passed for Santa’s sleigh, according to police accounts.
“Officers retrieved the empty package boxes in order to determine if the suspect was in possession of any of the contents,” the statement said. “Inside the driver’s side door was a receipt and the matching clothing was located in the suspect’s trunk. These items were later linked to one of the open packages. Also located in the trunk were 4 drapes, 4 bottles of shampoo & conditioner, and 4 Disney watches. All of these items were matched to stolen packages in the area.”
Cops charged him with larceny over $250, larceny under $250, receiving stolen property over $250 and receiving stolen property under $250, according to the statement.
“After his arrest the suspect admitted to taking the items from the packages,” the release said. “He also stated that he has come to Brookline in the past to find valuables that have been left out as trash. The suspect claimed to have Facebook and Craigslist accounts where he sells the items he finds.”
Ortiz repeatedly voiced regret about the incident when he spoke to the Globe.
“I feel bad about what I’ve done,” he said. “I regret what I have done. It wasn’t [a] bad intention. I have no record. I’ve never been convicted, never been to jail, never been confronted, never been stopped. I’m clean like a whistle. ... I apologize to whoever was hurt.”
Ortiz was released on recognizance Wednesday during his arraignment in Brookline District Court, with conditions including keeping away from the alleged victims.
He’s due back in court on Feb. 12.Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.