“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 often so tempting and easy to snatch a package that some petty criminals can’t resist it.
USA TODAY reports that 30% of Americans have been the victim of package theft. It can strike at any time, but rates tend to peak around the holiday season. With so many people taking advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and quick shipping, there’s a bounty of boxes on doorsteps every December.
Use these tips and tools to protect your gifts and prevent package theft any time of the year.
Best tools and tech to protect your packages
These devices and tools that can help keep your deliveries safe. They may even help you catch the culprit in the event of a grab-and-run.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Package theft protection basics
Remember that many thieves are opportunists. They’re on the hunt for easy targets. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to prevent package theft is not to allow packages to sit outside for too long. These measures can 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.