It is estimated that 36% of Americans have, at least once, had a package stolen from outside of their house.
Sadly, it is quite common for people to seize the opportunity when they notice a package left on a doorstep or a porch. These people are often referred to as porch pirates.
Knowing this, how can you make sure that it doesn't happen to you?
Luckily, you have a number of options when it comes to preventing this type of occurrence. Let's take a look at what you can do to make sure everything you order arrives without a hitch.
What Is a Porch Pirate?
The term porch pirate is used to refer to people who steal packages from other people's homes. Why would anyone do this?
Well, there are a number of potential explanations. For one, it's relatively easy. Many of these crimes are just crimes of opportunity, meaning that a person takes advantage of a possibility that is presented to them.
They also might do so because there is a chance the package contains valuable merchandise. Porch pirates likely hope that small packages contain expensive items that can be resold, such as phones, video game systems, sound systems, or computers.
Some people might simply have a compulsion towards theft that drives them to seek out the thrill of stealing.
Unfortunately, there was a steep rise in the number of porch pirate incidents in 2020 during the pandemic. This is partially due to the fact that there was a major increase in online shopping as people were avoiding going to public places when possible.
How to Catch a Package Thief
If you're worried about a stolen package at home, what do you do? Is there any way to catch a package thief?
While you might have seen someone set up a "package thief trap" in a viral video that involves an explosion of glitter when the thief opens the box, this might not be the most practical avenue for the average homeowner.
The best way to deal with package thieves is through preventative and security measures. 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 and tracked down.
If someone steals your package, the worst-case scenario is that the valuable items you ordered are gone forever and cannot be replaced or refunded. While many major online retailers have systems in place for dealing with stolen or missing packages, you'll still end up having to spend time dealing with the process and waiting for a replacement or a refund.
While you could get creative when it comes to foiling porch pirates, the main goal is to make sure that the items you order actually make it inside your home.
There are a lot of different ways you can help reduce your risk of getting a package stolen. Let's take a look at some of the most effective methods of foiling porch pirates.
Get a Porch Pirate Bag
There are products you can purchase that are referred to as "porch pirate bags." These bags are fairly large and made out of durable material. You can instruct delivery people to place the package in the bag and lock it to something fixed on your porch with the combination lock that is attached.
This isn't a fool-proof solution, because a thief could certainly cut through the bag if they were determined. That being said, it does act as a deterrent.
Pay for a Package Receiving Service
There are services you can sign up for with major delivery companies that offer lockers you can rent. You typically pay a monthly fee in order to have access to a locker where you can have your packages delivered.
This might be practical if the location of the locker is near to where you live or work. However, if it isn't, it can end up being more of a hassle than some of these other solutions.
Require a Signature
You can often check off "signature required" when you are checking out during online shopping. This can work well if you are often home in order to sign for your packages. If you aren't, though, it can cause a goose-chase where you keep missing the delivery person and your package.
Ask That the Package Be Left Out of Plain View
You can talk with your delivery driver and tell them the best spot to leave a package. Some delivery drivers go out of their way to put packages in places where they aren't in plain view of the sidewalk or road. However, it can be good to establish a delivery spot that is obscured from view by other objects or landscaping.
You also might be able to add delivery instructions when you are placing an order. When you are checking out and filling in your shipping information, look to see if there is a place to leave "delivery instructions." This way, you can ask that the package be left by a side door or in a spot that is not visible from the road.
Have USPS Packages Held at Your Local Post Office
While not all USPS locations can receive deliveries from all the different mail services, you can have your package delivery sent USPS held at the post office for you. That way, they are protected until you are able to retrieve them and bring them home yourself.
Install a Home Security System
Having a home security system is one of the best ways to scare away would-be invaders and thieves. These can include features like motion detectors, 24/7 monitoring, yard signs and window decals, a digital panel, and more.
As mentioned before, many thieves are committing crimes of opportunity. If they see a package sitting on your porch, they might be tempted to try and snatch it. However, if they see that your home is equipped with a security system, they will likely think twice about it.
On top of that, things like motion detectors are a very useful deterrent. They trigger lights that will often scare away would-be robbers as well as trigger security cameras.
Use a Security Camera
Consider installing a security camera near your front door. This is the best way you catch a package thief, as you have evidence and visual information about the thief that you can provide to law enforcement.
Most people can't expect that their neighbors are watching their front porch diligently enough that they will notice if someone steals a package from the front porch. If you're away from home with any regularity, a security camera is essential.
While you can use a traditional security camera, you might also consider using a doorbell camera. These are positioned in a place where you can see anyone who approaches your doorway.
With ADT doorbell camera solutions, you can help ensure secure deliveries, offer crisp, clear HD images of whoever is at your door, as well as two-way audio so you can chat with visitors.
These doorbell cameras also come with built-in motion detection, meaning that your smartphone will get an alert when someone is at your home. Even when you aren't home, you'll be able to both see and speak with anyone that's at your front door.
On top of all that, these cameras are also equipped with night vision. This means that people at your doorway can be seen more clearly even in low light. The 180-degree wide view of your front yard also can help protect the rest of your property.
Install Motion Detector Lights
If someone is trying to steal your package, they are doing so with the hope that they can slip in and out unseen. When you have motion detector lights, there's a good chance they will get spooked away before reaching your porch when the lights come on. Porch pirates are well aware that the lights turning on might capture someone's attention and that they are far more visible with a spotlight shining on them.
Get to Know the Delivery People
There's a good chance that some of the same delivery people are frequently stopping by your home. Get to know the delivery people in your area and become friendly with them. You can also share with them your preferences about where to leave packages so they are less likely to be stolen.
Delivery drivers often also have some degree of discretion when it comes to deliveries. This means that if they know you and notice something that seems odd at your home, they might be more likely to simply leave you a notice rather than the package.
Network With Neighbors
If package theft has been an ongoing problem in your neighborhood rather than a one-off event, you might consider collaborating with your neighbors. You and the other property owners around you might decide to look out for strangers in the neighborhood. Additionally, you might agree to keep an eye on deliveries at each other's houses.
If you aren't going to be home when a package is delivered, you can ask a trusted neighbor if you can have it sent there instead. You can also ask the neighbor to grab a package that's already been delivered and keep it at their home until you return back o the house.
Upgrade Your Mailbox
Another option when it comes to preventing package theft is getting a lockbox to replace your current mailbox. It can be used for both regular mail and packages.
It's important to make sure that any box you install is one that is approved by the USPS so you don't run into issues.
Have Your Package Delivered to Your Work
One way you can avoid even having a porch pirate tempted by your delivery is to just get your packages delivered to work. This might work out just fine and be convenient for you, but it might be impractical with certain types of packages. After all, do you really want to have that heavy, awkwardly shaped box delivered to your office just so you have to transport it back home?
Take Advantage of the "Ship to Store" Option
Many retailers offer a "ship to store" option. This means that you can order items that they don't have in stock and have them sent to the store itself. You can then go and pick it up within a reasonably wide timeframe.
If you don't mind running errands or you live near to the retail store, this might not be too inconvenient. However, it does seem to take some of the efficiency out of online shopping when you end up driving to the store and picking up the item yourself. Also, this is only going to be an option for certain types of items and retailers.
At ADT, we take your safety and security seriously. If you're looking for more resources on how to prevent package theft, take a look at this article.
Are You Looking For More Safety and Security Resources?
It is incredibly frustrating and disheartening to have your packages stolen by someone else. It's an unfortunate reality in our world that this is something we have to be concerned about, but it is, in reality, a possibility for just about any homeowner.
Luckily, you can do a number of things to ensure that this outcome never happens to you.
Ensuring that you are safe and secure in your home is an absolute priority. If you're looking for more resources to help keep you and your family safe, take a look at our library of resources.