11 Ways to Prevent Package Theft
Porch pirates are modern-day bandits who strike when we least expect it, snatching our online orders right from our front stoops. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that’s not going away anytime soon. Like fake package delivery scams, statistics strongly suggest that incidents of porch piracy are on the rise, with millions of packages disappearing annually across the United States. In this era of e-commerce and convenience, safeguarding your deliveries has never been more crucial. Here’s a look at the statistics and tips for outsmarting these porch pirates, plus what to do if you fall victim.
What are Porch Pirates?
Porch pirates are people who steal packages left by carriers outside a person’s home. These thieves are responsible for stealing $8 billion in items over the last year (Security.org). According to the 2023 Security.org’s package theft annual report, 44 million Americans have had a package stolen from August 2023 to October 2023, with an increase in thefts expected once holiday shopping kicks in.
Ways to Stop Porch Pirates
Preventing package theft during the holiday season can help ensure your online purchases and gifts arrive safely. Here are some ways to help protect your packages:
1. Use package tracking
Keeping a close eye on tracking information (usually on your receipt) provided by the shipping carrier is pretty straightforward. However, when you’re expecting several packages from multiple carriers, tracking can be challenging. The OneLaunch tracking app can track up to five packages at a time across the major delivery services, including UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL.
2. Request delivery alerts
Sign up for delivery alerts via email or text from your carrier to get the latest status of your package.
3. Install security cameras
Security cameras near your front door or porch might deter potential thieves. If a camera-based security system doesn’t scare off porch pirates, footage may prove valuable in catching the person(s) who stole your package(s).
4. Use package lockers or delivery services
Instead of having packages delivered to your home, opt to pick up packages from secure lockers or retail stores with services like Amazon Locker, UPS Access Point, or FedEx Hold at Location. Amazon also has its Amazon Key in-garage delivery service that links your Amazon Prime account to your garage door opener, but it does require a smart garage door opener such as MyQ, Aladdin or Overhead Door’s Anywhere app.
5. Require a signature
When shipping packages, select the “require signature upon receipt” option. This ensures that the carrier won’t leave a package without someone accepting it.
6. Redirect packages to your workplace
If allowed, have your packages delivered to your place of work.
7. Use a smart doorbell
Smart video doorbells, like security cameras, can provide real-time footage and alerts when someone is near your doorstep. Some also allow you to communicate with the delivery person remotely.
8. Get a porch lock box for packages
Use an outdoor lockable delivery box or a secure package drop box on your property where packages can be safely left out of sight from the street. Do a search for “lockable package box for porch” and you’ll see options that run from around $75 to $200. These work like FedEx and other shipping drop boxes, but you have the key!
9. Vacation holds
If you’re going to be away for any length of time, placing a temporary hold on your mail and package deliveries with the postal service or relevant carriers can help prevent packages from piling up on your doorstep.
10. Be discreet with packaging
Ask the retailer to use plain packaging without logos or branding that indicates valuable contents. This can make your package less enticing to potential thieves.
11. Ask a neighbor
Ask neighbors to watch for packages on your doorstep. You can reciprocate this favor for them as well.
By taking these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of package theft during the holiday season and throughout the year. However, if you believe a package was stolen from outside your door, there are a few steps you can take to recover your item(s).
What to Do if You Are a Victim of Porch Pirates
Before reporting your package stolen, be sure it was delivered. Look around to ensure the delivery person didn’t leave the package in a different spot. Review any tracking notifications and check any camera footage you may have from your smart doorbell or security system. You could also ask your family, friends, or neighbors who would have been around during the time you expected the delivery.
If, indeed, your package is gone, here are the steps you should take as soon as possible after confirming it was delivered and stolen.
Contact the sender
Reach out to the sender to report the theft. Many retailers, like Amazon, make it fairly easy to get a replacement or refund for stolen items.
File a claim with your carrier
Filing a claim with the respective carrier may help get your package or refund.
- FedEx: You must file a lost package claim (this can take between five and seven days).
- UPS: File a claim within 60 days of package delivery (processing can take up to 15 business days).
- USPS: First, you must fill out a Help Request form for missing packages. If, after filling out the form, you don’t receive your package within seven days, you need to submit a Missing Mail Search Request with supporting documents like a tracking number and proof of the item’s value. Be sure to include any evidence you have of the package(s) being stolen.
File a police report
If your package was stolen, you can file a police report. Provide them with whatever evidence you have to help them find and potentially charge the person responsible. This option may be required if you intend to file an insurance claim on your missing item(s).
Seek help from your credit card company
Reach out to your credit card company if other recovery options have failed, and ask if you have any protection against theft. Some card providers may give you a refund.