“Porch pirates” are unfortunately more common than ever, taking advantage of the fact that online shopping is at an all-time high. Even though it’s a federal crime, it’s so tempting and easy to snatch a package from someone’s mailbox or front door that some petty criminals can’t resist it. In fact, USA TODAY reported that 30% of Americans have been the victim of package theft. However, many burglars and thieves are opportunists. They’re on the hunt for easy targets and might just notice an attractive package and snatch it. Package theft protection can range from some simple best practices to using technology for an added safety boost. Here are a few ways to ensure your packages aren’t the most appealing on the block.
Package theft protection basics
One of the most effective ways to prevent package theft is to not let packages sit outside your home for too long. This isn’t always possible, but these measures help:
- Have your packages delivered elsewhere, such as your place of employment, an Amazon delivery site, P.O. box, or FedEx/UPS location. It’s well worth the minor inconvenience to ensure your packages are safe.
- Request that deliveries require a signature. With carriers like FedEx or UPS, you can often set this preference using your customer account, even if the package is already on its way. In other cases, such as USPS deliveries, you will need to arrange for a signature ahead of time.
- Subscribe to delivery alerts. All of the major delivery services offer some kind of notification service for package updates. Opt in to receive the most up-to-date information available.
- Keep the area around your front porch clear and visible. This is a burglary prevention tip often shared by police officers. Thieves want to be able to get to and from your doorstep undetected. When they’re likely to be seen, they’re more likely to choose another target.
- Request nondescript packaging. When possible, ask senders not to announce where the package is coming from, especially if it’s from a high-end store. Sometimes this is possible through requesting a gift shipping option. Check the box labeled “Gift” to ensure your package comes in a plain box.
Tools and tech for secure package delivery
These investments can help keep your deliveries safe and may help you catch the culprit in the event of a grab-and-run.
- Package lockboxes. These can be installed near or in conjunction with your mailbox. While even a non-locking parcel box prevents theft by concealing your deliveries from the street, choose a lockable container for maximum security. Some lockbox styles, such as the Elephantrunk Dropbox, have a slot for easy drop-offs but require a key for retrieval. With boxes that remain locked, USPS will work with you to ensure your delivery person has access. You must also communicate delivery instructions to FedEx and UPS drivers.
- Outdoor security cameras. For maximum theft deterrence, make sure your outdoor security cameras are highly visible and clearly pointed at the package drop-off area.
- Video doorbells. Video doorbells are lower profile than security cameras, so they aren’t as effective as theft deterrents. However, they have perks that could still make them a good choice for your home, such as motion activation, easy installation, multifunctional features and a unique vantage point that’s more likely to catch a thief’s identity than an overhead camera.
- Home security window and yard signs. Signs advertising your home security system could be enough to scare off a thief. If you’re still saving up for a system, consider posting faux signs. It’s also possible to purchase used “real” security signs online. It’s no substitute for an actual security system, but many porch pirates aren’t highly refined thieves. They’re simply looking for a quick way to make money and an adrenaline rush.