Arg! Matey! Thwart Porch Pirates from Pirating Your Loot!
CNBC reported in January 2020 that according to researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1.7 million packages are stolen or lost every day in the U.S. – and that was before the lockdown. They asked 2,000 consumers who shopped online at least once within the last 12 months about their experiences with package theft.
Respondents who reported having a package stolen rose from 36 percent in 2019 to 43 percent in 2020. Of the 43 percent who had a package stolen, almost two-thirds (64 percent) said they had a package stolen more than once. Wow! That's a lot of lifted loot.
Finder.com’s report went even further. Their survey found that the average value of packages stolen was $156.82.
Who Is Stealing Our Packages?
Huh? A porch pirate is a thief who steals packages left outside the front or side doors and patios. They randomly cruise neighborhoods in search of unattended shipping boxes and delivery pouches. It’s not hard to find a package. When the delivery driver stops and runs the package up to the door, the thief lays in wait, watching where the package went and giving the driver a minute or two to get out of the area. If no one is around the thief runs up and grabs the package.
Generally, porch pirates are not interested in the packages for themselves. They are looking to make a quick buck by selling the stolen items in online marketplaces.
The profile of a porch pirate may surprise you. It’s not some young punk. Value Penguin found that Gen Xers (40-54) are most likely to have stolen a package in the last 12 months, with 4.57 percent saying they’d done so, followed by Millennials (24-39) and Gen Z (18-23).
Jared Wright, Tekna Security & Smarthome, LLC, a Rosie-Certified Partner noted that while working from home a well-dressed woman crossed his front lawn and headed towards his door. He approached and she stuttered that she was looking for her dog. After further questioning she left and got in a Cadillac Escalade that was parked down the street. Later his neighbor asked if he received her packaged that was noted as delivered, but she did not receive. Coincidence?
Porch pirates tend to strike neighborhoods with an annual income of $80,000 to $99,999, followed closely by those earning $100,000 to $119,999.
An analysis of Google search terms by U.S. Packaging & Wrapping, LLC found that Arizona ranks number 25 in delivery theft.
Deter Porch Pirates
There are several things you can do to prevent porch pirates from stealing your packages.
Pay attention to the traffic in your neighborhood. Is there a vehicle that consistently follows the delivery truck? If so, try to get a license plate and report it to the police.
The Nextdoor app connects neighbors to each other — and to everything nearby: businesses, services, news updates, recommendations, and items for sale. In this instance it is a helpful tool for neighbors to give each other a heads up about crime in their neighborhood. Many users post screen shots of porch pirates in an effort to catch them.
Leave detailed delivery instructions
When filling out the delivery section, point out specific places to leave the package.
Most shipping companies guarantee expedited packages by a specific time of day. Have the shipment come when you know someone will be home to collect it.
Track your packages to know where they are in route and the timeframe of expected delivery.
Request a signature when the package is delivered. UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS have this option. If you won’t be home to sign for your package, ask the delivery service to redirect it to a trusted neighbor's address. UPS MyChoice offers this service. You can also request a delivery confirmation. FedEx can redirect your package to a FedEx location for up to 14 days and free of charge. Or re-route your package to another location or schedule another delivery time. A fee will apply.
Install a security camera and doorbell such as Ring, so you can see who is at the door. Wright suggests installing a camera above the garage. The cameras positioned at the front door in most homes do not capture activity on the driveway. This camera will provide another shot, one that may be close enough to get the car model and license plate which, you can report to the police and warn your neighbors.
Motion lights illuminate an area when they sense movement and will shut off automatically when the movement stops. With built-in motion sensors, the lights will only turn on if motion is triggered near the light. If you want the light to turn on sooner, consider installing your motion sensor in a corner closer to the front of the building. You can also adjust the sensitivity settings for cars, people, or the random neighborhood cat strutting by.
This 30-inch x 40-inch PVC reinforced nylon bag locks to your front door or gate. Instruct delivery people to drop your package inside the bag and secure it using the attached combination lock. It is only available on Amazon.com and sells for $34.95.
Amazon Prime members in eligible locations can sign up for Amazon Key. Packages are left inside your home or vehicle with the use of a smart lock, security camera, and the Amazon Key app. You remotely unlock your door via the app to let the delivery person inside. Watch live footage of them coming and going. Caution: unlike other delivery service drivers who generally deliver to the same route every day, Amazon drivers regularly change. This opens your home to more eyes accessing entry and goods.
This Frisbee-like device is a virtual security guard. Connect it to your WiFi and position it on your doorstep, instructing delivery people to place packages on top of it. An alarm will sound when a porch pirate attempts to steal the package or the Package Guard device itself. The only way to deactivate the alarm is via the Package Guard app. It sells for $89, but at press time, they were out of stock.
Commercial Delivery -- Packages do not need to be shipped directly to your house. Have them delivered to a commercial address if possible. Drivers leave packages inside, eliminating the risk of porch theft. Most carriers will not leave packages outside of a commercial address after hours.
Upon checking out choose one of the Amazon Hub locations in your area. Locations include convenience and retail stores. After receiving your pickup email notification, visit the location within 15 days and pick up your package. There is also Amazon Hub Locker+ which features more options.
Off-Site Lock Boxes
In addition to Amazon, FedEx, and UPS also offer lockboxes to keep your packages secure.
Front Door Drop Box
Bolt parcel drop boxes or lockers to your front porch. We found that ParcelWirx by RTS Home Accents comes in many styles: metal or plastic, vertical dropbox or locker-style, and also chest-style. The chest style box requires an external lock. You need to contact ParcelWix directly to get a price quote. However, there are many manufacturers to choose from at home supply stores and oddly enough, online! Prices range from less than $100 to nearly $900 depending on the size, material, and locking mechanism. Though smart locks can be used to secure chests and boxes, be sure your delivery drivers will take the time to use them as it is an extra step in their busy schedules.
Don't let the porch pirates win. Thwart their attempts with these options.
Millions of packages are stolen by porch pirates each year costing hundreds, even thousands out of your pocket! We discuss ways to keep your packages (Argh! Matey! Protect the booty!) from being stolen by porch pirates. Including some products that can help. Some listeners offer their advice too!
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