How to Protect Packages From Getting StolenApr 22, 2019
It’s a crime that didn’t happen very often until about 10 years ago — people stealing packages delivered to someone’s front door or side porch. They are known as porch pirates. It wasn't that thieves didn’t occasionally steal packages or important mail in the past. It’s just that they did not do it with the frequency that they do today.
Yet times do change and so did the way people deliver packages. Where once packages were only delivered via the United States postal system and to a mailbox or perhaps a P.O. Box, these days people can receive packages from any one of many businesses that deliver packages to your front door. Since it is now so easy to order online, individuals can order an item they want from literally anywhere in the world and have it delivered to their homes.
While these new delivery methods have created a world of convenience for us that didn’t even exist a decade ago, it has also created this new “crime wave.” It is especially a problem around holidays when porch pirates are known to follow delivery trucks around neighborhoods, stealing the packages the delivery person has dropped off only a few moments before. In many cases, these thieves will then use the Internet to sell their stolen wares.
How widespread is porch piracy? Almost 26 million Americans — or about 8 percent of the documented population — have reported a stolen package. The total may be even higher because some individuals may be reluctant to report these kinds of thefts if they receive refunds.
Make no mistake about it — this is a crime with serious consequences. While it has been relatively easy for thieves to operate so far, several different alternatives are developing to prevent porch piracy.
Statistics About Package Theft
When you start to dig into the numbers, you can see that porch piracy is more than a run-of-the-mill crime. According to a survey done by Schorr Packaging in 2017, 31 percent of Americans have had packages stolen from their homes.
Here are some other interesting statistics about package theft, from the 2017 survey on porch pirates by Schorr Packaging, unless otherwise indicated:
- 53 percent said they had changed plans to be home to sign for a package when it was delivered.
- Millennials and GenerationXers are much more likely to change their plans to receive a package than Baby Boomers.
- 41 percent said there were certain items they would no longer order online for fear the items would be stolen.
- 71 percent of people said they would be open to having their packages delivered to a secure location with a locker rather than their own home.
- Over 90 percent of those surveyed said they wanted packages delivered to their home. But of that number, 35 percent said they had packages delivered to another location to avoid theft.
- 53 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for their purchases if a company offered to insure those purchases.
- The five things that make packages appealing to thieves are the location of the box, brand names on the packages, any descriptive text on the outside of the box, the size of the box and finally the shape of the box.
- People also stopped ordering some items online for delivery to their front porch, with electronics being the number one item people no longer ordered.
- Schorr also has an interactive map that shows you where the most packages are stolen.
- San Francisco is the number one spot for most year-round porch thefts of Amazon packages.
- Austin, Texas, is the most popular spot for holiday thieves, with Salt Lake City coming in at number two for holiday thefts in 2018. New York was the safest place in the country to have a package delivered over the holidays.
- Police only make arrests in one of ten porch thefts.
- Many people believe that porch piracy only happens in urban or suburban areas. But rural areas can be among some of the highest areas for package theft in the country. In fact, the three states with the highest rate of package theft are North Dakota, Vermont and Alaska.
Sometimes thieves don’t just steal easily replaceable items. One Utah father was forced to take out an expensive loan after porch pirates took medicine that was needed to help keep his 4-year-old son alive.
Tips to Prevent Package Theft
Over the past couple of years, annoyed consumers have come up with some interesting ways to try and prevent package theft. These include:
- A device that fires a blank 12-gauge shotgun shell when a dummy package is picked up.
- People who put dog feces in dummy packages.
- Dummy packages that explode in glitter bombs and a foul-smelling spray when they were opened.
While these efforts were guaranteed to provide a moment of smug satisfaction when the thieves ended up covered in glitter or ran away terrified from the front porch thinking they were being shot at, for the most part, these ingenious solutions are not practical for the average homeowner.
No silver bullet provides a solution to package theft. Here are some ideas, however, that may work for you if you are worried about your packages being stolen:
1. Install a Secure Locker on Your Front Porch
A locker secured to your front porch is a great idea if you feel comfortable telling the delivery people where to find the key. If you feel that is unsafe, several models of commercial lockers are available that use technology to allow the delivery person to access the lockers without a key, place your delivery in the locker and then securely close it until you return home to open it and retrieve the package.
2. Find a Trusty Neighbor
This may be easier in some parts of the country than others – sometimes city dwellers don’t even know the people who live next door to them – but it’s still a great idea. The best solution is to find someone in your neighborhood who you know will be home most of the day — someone like a stay-at-home parent or a retiree. There are a few hassles involved. You need to go and get the packages, and your neighbor has to deal with delivery people and find a place to store your packages. But if you have a neighbor who doesn’t mind, this is an ideal solution.
Make sure you thank them regularly. A plate of fresh cookies, a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or perhaps mowing the lawn in the summer are great ways to say thank you.
3. Have Packages Delivered to Your Office
This is probably one of the safest options. It does have a few problems. Sometimes deliveries are made in the evening, and if the building is closed, your package will be returned to a central location where you will probably need to go to pick it up. Office mailrooms can also be quite slow, so you might not get your package delivered the next day as you would if it was delivered to your home. It also means you need to take the packages home, and depending on its size and weight, it can be awkward. Still, if you know the package will be delivered during days when you work, this is a great way to know it won't be stolen.
4. Use a Smart Package Locker or a Store That Sells Locker Space
Amazon probably delivers more packages to people’s front doors than anyone else. They are aware that there is a problem with porch pirates and so have come up with their own solution — the Amazon Locker. Amazon Lockers are located in various cities around the country. Amazon will deliver your package to the locker and then send you a unique code that allows you to retrieve your delivery. If your package is still there three days after you’ve received the code, it will be sent back.
If your community doesn’t have Amazon lockers, it may have something like a UPS store. There may also be convenience stores in your town that offer rentable lockers for deliveries.
5. Require a Signature When the Package is Delivered
If you know that someone in your household will be home when the package is delivered, you can request that the package only be delivered if it is signed for. The only inconvenience is that someone has to be around all day. If that is not a problem, this is an ideal solution. If the package that requires your signature for delivery is left unattended, and the delivery person did not follow procedures, you can ask for a full refund or replacement from the delivery company.
6. Vacation Package Hold
If you know that you’re going to be away on the day that a package is delivered, you can place a hold on the package to ensure that it won’t be left on your front porch when you’re not there. Many delivery companies offer a free service where they will hold your package at their delivery centers for some time. It’s inconvenient in the sense that you need to go and pick it up, but it’s better to make the trip and know that your package is safe than having it delivered to your home and nobody being there to take it inside.
The United States Postal Service will hold your packages and mail for up to 30 days.
7. Insure Your Packages
As we noted above, a significant number of people would be willing to pay extra to insure their packages if delivery companies offered that option. The United States Postal Service offers the option of insuring every package, and if you know that a relative, business associate or friend will be sending you a valuable package in the mail, you might tell them that it’s worthwhile to have it insured.
Other companies like FedEx don’t offer insurance plans at the moment but do offer limited reimbursement on packages that are lost or stolen in transit.
8. Make It Look Like You Are Home
One of the best ways to deter porch piracy is to trick the potential thieves into thinking someone is home. This won’t stop them all, but it will deter quite a few. Leave the radio on, use an electronic mechanism to turn the lights on and off, but keep your blinds down or your curtains drawn especially at the front of your home. That will prevent potential thieves from peeking in your windows to see if anyone is around.
Also, keep your property well lit.
9. Install Security Cameras to Prevent Theft
Video security cameras have come a long way, and thanks to the Internet, are easy to use. It’s now possible to install video security cameras around your property and see what’s going on at your home via your desktop computer, mobile device or your smartphone.
While video surveillance is not perfect, it can be a real deterrent to thieves. You want cameras that are at least 1440p with optical zoom and high resolution. Even if it doesn’t totally stop package theft, it makes it much easier to identify the people who took your packages.
While you can buy popular lower-priced video surveillance software, if you know you’re going to have a lot of valuable packages delivered to your home, you want a much more robust video security system. Combined with some of the ideas offered above, a good home security package featuring video surveillance can help reduce porch piracy.
About Home Security Systems
Security cameras strategically placed around your home allow you to keep an eye on the front porch as well as watch the interior. Security cameras on your front porch also are a great deterrent to porch pirates. It will help dissuade them from thinking about stealing your packages.
Good home security systems will feature IP wireless outdoor cameras that operate 24/7/365. These cameras provide sharp images and clear resolution and record the data that you need to help protect your home. If a package is stolen, these cameras provide clear images for the police to use to track down the suspects.
Home security systems are much more financially feasible today than they have been in the past. Installation fees are relatively low, and monthly subscription rates can be had for around $25 to $35.
When You’re Looking for Quality Home Security, Contact Certified Fire And Security
If you want to find great video surveillance equipment for your home in Salt Lake City or St. George, contact Certified Fire And Security. Our skilled, efficient and courteous technicians can design, maintain and install your home security cameras. Our security systems can help you prevent porch piracy and offer you peace of mind of knowing that your packages and your family are both well protected.
You can call us at 435-659-2446 or contact us online today to discuss setting up your home video surveillance camera.