- Checklist to Prevent Porch Pirates
- What are Porch Pirates?
- How to Stop Porch Pirates
- What To Do If Your Package Was Stolen
- Frequently Asked Questions
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, home deliveries have been on the rise, with a nearly 40% increase according to a recent poll. And with more Americans buying their merchandise online, porch pirates have more opportunities to steal packages right out from under our noses.
One poll found that stolen packages rose from 36% in 2019 to 43% in 2020 among participating respondents. Of the 43% who’ve had a package stolen last year, 64% said it’s occurred more than once. Further, 30% never received their money back and less than half of victims reported the thief getting caught.
Still, studies show that many consumers often take no action to minimize their risk of package theft. With the pandemic being far from over, learning how to stop porch pirates from stealing your packages can go a long way in avoiding financial losses both big and small.
Checklist to Prevent Porch Pirates
To help prevent stolen packages, follow this checklist prior to making your next online purchase.
- Get friendly to know your delivery drivers. The more you interact with the people dropping off your packages and let them know your preferences, the better your chances are of keeping your packages safe from thieves.
- Get a front door monitoring device. Video surveillance through home security cameras may not always stop a thief from stealing your items, but it may dissuade them from doing so or be useful as evidence later on should they get caught.
- Utilize online tracking services and report missing packages to the retailer if a “delivered” package is not at your door.
- Deliver your packages to a secure location such as your workplace (if possible), a local business, or USPS to avoid it being left at home during work hours.
- Request a secured shipment. This type of shipment requires a signature to confirm it has been delivered into the right hands.
- Avoid leaving packages unattended for long periods of time. If you’ll be gone for the day, authorize the carrier to leave the package in a more secured location such as over the fence or request it be picked up at their facility.
- Be on the lookout for suspicious activity, you know your neighborhood best. If someone or something seems out of place, report it to the proper authorities—the more details the better.
What are Porch Pirates?
The term “porch pirate” refers to a person who steals packages from someone else’s porch or doorstep. Though these thieves use a number of methods, one of the most common techniques used is to follow a delivery truck onto a quiet street and then grab the dropped-off package once the truck has left.
Why do they do it? Well, for one, it’s relatively easy, since most items can be resold without anyone noticing that they are stolen goods. Secondly, some porch pirates simply enjoy the thrill of the act.
How to Stop Porch Pirates
Talk to Your Delivery People
If you regularly receive packages at your door, you may start to notice the same faces delivering your purchases. Next time you’re home during a delivery, take a minute to talk with them and let them know your delivery preferences when you’re not home.
Generally, delivery drivers are good about knowing where to leave packages, but if they notice any suspicious or odd activity around, let them know they can leave a note for you instead of dropping off your package.
Install a Ring Doorbell
Ring doorbells are one of the easiest ways to deter porch pirates from lurking around your home and stealing your packages. Ranging from $50 to $200, these small devices can go a long way in protecting your purchases.These types of doorbells offer video monitoring and recording around your home while also notifying users of any motion detected. Most also let you set specific “activity zones” so that you’re not bombarded with notifications any time a cat walks past your front door.
Modern doorbell cameras also feature two-way audio systems that can be controlled from a connected device. Owners can interact with individuals at their door over a speaker should they suspect suspicious activity or if they'd like to let the carrier know where to leave the package.
Install a Smart Camera System
Similar to Ring Doorbells, it can be beneficial to install a smart camera system which gives you more security features and can monitor additional areas around your home. Camera systems can be placed anywhere and can be viewed on a smartphone, tablet, or computer connected to the internet.
Depending on the brand, some cameras can tell whether motion is coming from a car, animal or human, or even the difference between what’s “familiar” and what may be suspicious activity. With this enhanced technology, smart cameras are able to send notifications accordingly.
Deliver to a Secured Business
When in doubt, have your package delivered to a secure location such as your office (be sure to ask first), a retailer, or the carrier's facility.
USPS offers a free service for deliveries and will hold your mail for you for up to 30 days at their post office. When you sign up for the USPS Hold Mail option, you or a person of your choosing can pick up your packages with proper identification and a confirmation number. Alternatively, UPS and FedEx have similar options if it’s coming from one of their carriers.
If you’re a UPS My Choice member, UPS will hold your package for up to seven days either at your local store, a UPS customer center or a UPS Access Point. FedEx’s Delivery Manager allows its customers to pick up packages up to seven days at a local FedEx store, a Walgreens, or other locations near you.
Lastly, if you’re ordering online products from a brick-and-mortar store, they may have an option to ship free to their store for pickup. Depending on the business, they may hold it anywhere from three to 30 days once it’s arrived.
Utilize Amazon’s Delivery Features
As the world’s largest online retailer, it’s no surprise that Amazon has continued to find ways to improve its customer experience with deliveries. Two ways the retailer hopes to stop porch pirates is by offering Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery and providing secure Amazon Lockers worldwide.
The Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery is a free service for Prime members and works with your garage and smartphone. With the Key by Amazon app, you can view delivery notifications, control your garage door access (i.e., see who is coming in and out), and even give guest access to friends and family.
Follow these steps to set up your Key:
- Check your Amazon Key eligibility.
- Purchase a myQ Smart Garage Hub (if you don’t already have one).
- Use the myQ app to install your Smart Garage Hub or WiFi garage door opener.
- After Device Setup, enable Key delivery with your Amazon Prime credentials in the myQ app, or download the Key by Amazon App to enable.
- At checkout, choose Key Delivery when shopping and your items will be delivered inside of your garage when ready.
If that seems like too much work, Amazon provides an option to pick up your packages at one of its hub locations or via secured lockers. This option is available during checkout in step 3 under “Review items and shipping.”
Purchase a Yale Smart Delivery Box
Last year, Yale Home launched the Smart Delivery Box to give buyers a little peace of mind when getting packages delivered. The box comes in two colors (gray and carbon brown) and is meant to sit outside of your front door to receive deliveries.
The WiFi-enabled box can be controlled via the Yale Smart Living Home app, and users get notifications when packages arrive and can lock and unlock the box remotely. You can also create a delivery profile with one of three major carrier: FedEx, UPS and USPS to notify them of your delivery preferences.
How it works:
- Each day, the box begins in unlock mode.
- When the first package is received, the box automatically locks for the remainder of the day.
- If you’re expecting more packages, you can choose to unlock it during a delivery window and then relock it once it has been delivered.
Require a Signature Confirmation
Requiring a signature for delivery can be helpful in knowing how to stop porch pirates, but it’s not always the most convenient option. However, this option doesn’t come standard, you’ll need to specify with the specific carrier if a signature is required for packages. And if for some reason it was left without a signature and gets stolen, delivery companies are liable for that loss and you are entitled to a full refund or replacement.
What To Do If Your Package Was Stolen
Of course, no matter how many steps you take to protect your purchases, some may end up missing or stolen.
Contact the Delivery Courier
If your porch pirates do steal your package, contact your shipping courier with your tracking number and file a claim. Any additional photo or video evidence you may have can also be beneficial for your report. Here’s how to get a refund, replacement or file a report if your package was coming from one of these four major carriers:
- United States Postal Service: USPS has a seven-day waiting period before you are able to file a missing mail claim. Once issued, USPS will cover your shipping costs only and you’ll need to request a replacement or refund from the retailer. Insured packages though are guaranteed a direct refund.
- Amazon: To report a lost or stolen package with Amazon, you must wait at least 48 hours before filing a claim. Note: some carriers can deliver up until 10 p.m. If there's a problem with an item you can request an A-Z Guarantee which refunds stolen, missing, or damaged items within 90 days from the maximum estimated delivery date.
- UPS: Lost or stolen packages from UPS require a 24-hour waiting period before you or the sender can file a claim. Once your claim has been issued, it may take around 10 days before your issue is resolved. Continue to stay in contact with the seller since UPS will refund the missing item to them and they’ll need to issue your refund themselves.
- FedEx: You or the seller can file a claim with FedEx if you believe your package was stolen. Insured packages are covered up to $100 and claims are typically resolved within 5-7 business days.
Alternatively, you can contact these couriers by phone to report a lost or stolen package at:
- USPS: 1-800-275-8777
- Amazon: 1- 888-280-4331
- UPS: 1-800-742-5877
- FedEx: 1-800-463-3339
File a Police Report
It’s always a good idea to file a police report if you feel your package has been stolen. While it may not always lead to getting your items back or finding the perpetrator, it can help to better protect your community in the future. Plus, if you’re planning to file an insurance claim, a police report is required.