An increase in online ordering means an increase in opportunity for package thieves, commonly referred to as "porch pirates."
But there are simple ways to protect your deliveries, including using increased lighting, security cameras, keeping a car in your driveway, requiring signatures for deliveries when offered, and using virtual mailboxes. Learn more about making your home unwelcoming to potential porch pirates.
How to make your home less of a target to package thieves
According to Security.org, 49 million Americans had at least one package stolen in 2022, with the median value of the stolen package being approximately $50.
Some practical steps to preventing package theft include:
- Lighting: A well-lit exterior means a lessened ability to sneak away with your package without being spotted by neighbors. Motion-sensor spotlights are a deterrent for any trespassers.
- Park in your driveway: This will further hinder access to your front door and make the package seem less unsupervised.
- Schedule deliveries: When possible, schedule any package deliveries for when you will be home. Additionally, if the option is offered, choose to sign for your package deliveries, so the delivery person hands your package directly to you.
- Ask a neighbor: If you cannot be home at the time of an important delivery, ask a neighbor to sign for your package. And if you plan on being away, ask a neighbor to collect your mail daily while you're away and offer to reciprocate.
Having a security camera such as a Ring doorbell or a similar product can help deter package thieves and help you identify thefts that occur. According to Fran Haasch of the Fran Haasch Law Group in Palm Harbor, Florida, having proof can help, particularly if the porch pirate has struck repeatedly in your neighborhood. "If a package is stolen from your property, your best bet is to have already installed a video surveillance system so that the suspect can be identified," Haasch says. "Get ahead of any possibility and get a doorbell camera."
Rhys Charles, the founder and CEO of Mower on the Lawn, offers these practical criteria for security cameras. "First, you'll want to make sure the camera has a wide field of view so that it can capture a clear image of the person stealing your package," Charles says. Second, you'll want to choose a camera with night vision so that it can still record footage even if the theft occurs after dark. And, finally, you'll want to make sure the camera is weatherproof so that it can withstand the elements."
Consider a virtual mailbox
Virtual mailboxes like those offered by Earth Class Mail receive your mail, sort out the junk, manage any payments, and provide customers with digital images of their mail. For a monthly fee, such services help minimize identity theft and save time spent sorting through unwanted mail.
According to Andy Lewis, a security expert, virtual mailboxes are very popular with those who travel frequently or have a flexible schedule. "Many virtual mailbox providers offer package tracking and notifications, so you can always know when your deliveries are scheduled to arrive," Lewis says. "This eliminates the need for your packages to sit on your porch for an extended period of time, making them vulnerable to theft."
Additionally, according to Lewis, virtual mailbox services are ideal for people who move frequently. "They allow you to maintain a consistent mailing address even if you change locations," he says.
If you are a victim of delivery theft, file a complaint with law enforcement and provide any descriptions and/or security footage. Additionally, notify the seller, who may be able to refund you or re-send your order.
Haasch says, " If you are ever a victim, contact the seller that you purchased the item from. Chat with customer service to let them know the details of the issue. Retailers should be able to send out new packages or can issue refunds to the customer."
Minimize opportunity for delivery theft
These are practical steps that go a long way toward minimizing the risk of package theft. To learn more about protective services for packages, go here.
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