As more people choose online shopping, the opportunities for porch pirates to take advantage of free gifts are on the rise. The holiday shopping season means more unattended boxes filled with goodies end up on porches, giving thieves more opportunities.
In the last few years, more than 35 million Americans have had packages stolen from their front porches. People who live in big cities like San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta and Seattle experience more porch thefts than people in smaller towns. Packages are more commonly stolen in multi-family buildings, but single-family dwellings are not exempt from package theft. What happens when a package is stolen varies from family to family, but many spend over $100 replacing the stolen items.
Fortunately, homeowners can take steps to protect against theft during the holidays after UPS, FedEx and Amazon drop off packages when no one is home. Here are a few things you can do to ward off porch pirates from your home.
Tip #1: Ship to a Store or Post Office Box
Most shipping services will deliver your packages to a store or a protected mailbox. For example, if you order from stores like Walmart, Target, or Bath and Body Works, you can pick up your package at your nearest store. It's quick, convenient, and safe. Amazon also has hub locations where customers can pick up packages, especially if they aren't home when packages are delivered. Most retailers ask customers to show identification before they release packages to help stop package theft. Some retailers give shoppers a unique code to open a safe box that holds their items.
Tip #2: Install a Security Camera
To stop theft during the holidays and the rest of the year, install a home security system. When thieves see a camera outside of a home, they may think twice before stealing a package from a doorstep. Along with a visible camera, consider adding a sign showing your home is protected by a professional home monitoring company. If someone does steal a package from your porch, the camera will capture the moment to share with law enforcement and to help raise awareness for your neighbors.
Tip #3: Ask Your Neighbors If They Have Your Package
Employees at shipping companies are human, so they occasionally make mistakes. Sometimes they drop off packages at the wrong address. Before you assume the worst, ask your neighbors if they received your package. Amazon and other shipping companies often photograph the package drop-off spot, so look closely to determine if it's your porch or your neighbor's porch.
Tip #4: Ask Your Neighbors To Grab Your Package
Most retailers or shipping companies now offer nearly real-time package delivery notifications. If you know you're often away from home when packages get delivered, it can be a good idea to ask a trusted neighbor who is home during the day to grab a package for you. As soon as you receive the delivery notification, contact your neighbor and ask if they can hold onto the package or give them a key to leave it inside your home. To show your appreciation, you can reciprocate for your neighbor when they're away from home or bring them a baked treat.
Tip #5: Schedule Package Deliveries When You're Home
Some retailers offer customers the opportunity to select a delivery window. The best package theft deterrent is being home when they arrive. When you make your purchases, select a delivery day that you or someone in your household will be at home.
Tip #6: Have Your Mail Held When You're out of Town
The United States Postal Service will hold your mail while you are out of town. You can arrange the service easily on the USPS website, and you can schedule it at your local post office branch. At the end of the hold-mail service, you can ask the post office to deliver your mail or you can pick it up at the nearest branch. The best way to prevent theft during the holidays if you are away from home or on vacation is to have USPS hold your mail, then you pick it up. UPS and FedEx also have hold-mail services, and you can pause your Amazon scheduled deliveries for package theft protection.
Tip #7: Install a Lockable Porch Box
If you have routine deliveries, consider installing a lockable porch box with programmable codes for your delivery people. The best lockable boxes can be permanently anchored to your porch to prevent theft. You can also ask your delivery people to place your package in a hidden location, including in your home or at a back door. If you install a Notion Sensor in your lockable porch box, you'll receive a notification when your packages are delivered. You'll also receive a notification if someone opens the box after the delivery service leaves.
Tip #8: Amazon Key Reduces Theft
Another option that reduced theft is Amazon Key. Your Amazon delivery driver uses a smart lock and security camera to put your packages inside your front door. For added security, consider adding a Notion Sensor to your front door to receive alerts when your door opens and closes. Amazon delivery drivers can also put packages inside cars for additional protection from theft.
Porch pirates can be creative and determined, so be sure to take the necessary steps to protect your home, family, pets and packages with the tips that work best for your situation this holiday season.