Have you been the victim of a porch pirate? Have you or someone you know lost a delivery to theft? We all love the convenience of home delivery, but porch pirates are taking advantage of unsuspecting homeowners and renters by stealing packages from their front porch when they are not around.
Home security experts SafeWise.com and Vivint uncovered an alarming surge in porch piracy in a recent study: a staggering 79% of Americans experienced package theft from November 2020 to 2021, up 15% from the previous year. This disturbing trend has become increasingly common across the United States, with more people being targeted each day by thieves who seek out unattended parcels on doorsteps. Research indicates that between November 2021 and November 2022 alone, over 260 million parcels were stolen at a high cost of $19.5 billion dollars in stolen packages, making package theft a costly experience for Americans!
When package theft, or "porch pirates," becomes a problem in your neighborhood, it can be difficult to know what steps to take. If you have been a victim of package theft, here are some things you can do to try to recoup your loss:
- Report It To The Police.
Do not call 911. Having your package stolen is not an emergency. 911 is a critical phone number to dial in any emergency situation that requires prompt medical or law enforcement assistance. If your package is stolen, you should call the non-emergency number or use your city’s online reporting form. Provide the police with any relevant information, such as the tracking number, the value of the package, any photos or video your door cam may have of the incident, and the name of the delivery company.
- Contact The Delivery Company.
If your package was stolen, you should contact the delivery company to let them know. They may be able to provide you with a replacement or a refund. UPS, Amazon, Fedex, DHL, USPS may be able to help you or give you a refund for your delivery, it depends on the circumstances and their current policies around package theft. To file a claim, use the following links:
- Check With Neighbors.
If your package was stolen from your doorstep, it's possible that a neighbor saw something that could help you recover your items. Consider reaching out to your neighbors to see if they noticed anything suspicious.
- Use Social Media.
If you're still unable to recover your stolen package, consider using social media to spread the word. You never know who might have seen something that could help you solve the crime. Also, people may have a security camera view that provides more information.
- Check With Your Insurance Company.
If you're the victim of porch piracy, homeowners or renters insurance may be able to help you regain at least some of your loss. Some insurance policies cover stolen personal items such as packages. It will be necessary to provide evidence that your package was delivered and then taken away. Having package tracking numbers and/or security camera footage may be necessary for your claim to be accepted. With your proof confirming what happened, recouping part (or even all) of the cost is possible, minus your insurance deductible. Keep in mind that the insurance deductible may be worth more than the cost of the package.
- Make Changes To Prevent Future Thefts.
Once you've reported the theft and taken steps to try and recover your stolen package, take some time to evaluate what you can do to prevent future thefts.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to prevent porch pirates from stealing your packages.
Options To Prevent Package Theft:
- Use A Smart Lock.
A smart lock allows you to grant access to your delivery person without having to physically hand over a key. This way, you can ensure that your packages are dropped off inside your front door or garage, where they will be safe and secure. The downside of this method is that you have to give strangers access to your home.
- Have Your Packages Delivered To A Secure Location.
If you're not home during the day, consider having your packages delivered to your workplace, a friend or family member's house, or a FedEx or UPS store. The downside of this is that you have to make an extra trip to pick up your package instead of having the convenience of having your package dropped off at your home.
- Use A Package Locker.
Package lockers are a secure option for package delivery and can be found at many apartment buildings and office buildings. Some delivery services also offer their own package lockers. Simply have your packages delivered to the locker and pick them up at your convenience. Again, this can secure your packages, but at the cost of some convenience. Additionally, some larger packages will not fit inside of an electronic locker and, in the case of bulky packages, you’ll now have to wrestle with heavy, unwieldy packages to get them to your home.
- Use A Locked Package Delivery Box.
These are boxes, often weighted, that sit on your front porch that allow delivery companies to place your packages into a locked location. These are typically associated with an app that allows you to lock and unlock the box. Similar to package lockers, one obvious disadvantage is that you are limited in the size of packages that can be delivered into the box. Another issue is that some people have discovered that package delivery services will just ignore the box. Additionally, depending on the size and weight of the box, porch pirates may just carry off the entire box.
- Install A Surveillance System.
A reliable surveillance system can serve as a deterrent for those considering meddling with your doorstep deliveries, and also can provide evidence if your package is stolen. Some surveillance systems you can set up include motion sensors, exterior cameras, or front door cameras like a Ring doorbell camera. The downside of this method is that you have to rely on the package thieves to be scared off by the surveillance system and in most cases, they won’t actually prevent theft, just record it as it is happening.
- Request A Signature For Delivery.
By requiring a signature for delivery, you can ensure that your packages will only be left in your care, not just left on your doorstep. This method works well as long as you know you will be home to sign for the package. Also, not every seller will agree to pay for signature on delivery, so this may not always be an option.
- Track Your Packages.
Use a package tracking service to keep an eye on your deliveries and know exactly when they will arrive. This way, you can be home to receive your packages in person. Again, the availability and specifics of this sort of service often depends on the seller.
- Use Amazon’s Solutions.
Amazon has two of their own unique solutions to prevent package theft. Amazon Key which allows you to give access to the inside of your home or garage to Amazon delivery personnel. The downside is that you may not want strangers to have access to your house. The other option Amazon provides is called Amazon locker. Amazon locker delivers your package to a nearby Amazon location. The downside is that the package is not delivered to your home. Another downside is that none of the Amazon solutions work with non-Amazon packages.
- Get Help From A Neighbor.
If you're worried about missing a package, why not ask your neighbor to keep an eye out for it? You can return the favor by doing the same for them. It's a win-win situation that helps keep your packages safe. Another idea is to join or create a neighborhood watch group to stay in the loop about any sketchy activity in your area.
- Use the Package Guard
The package guard is a unique product that sits on your porch. Once your packages are placed on the Package Guard, if someone tries to take the package, you get a notification on your app and a loud alarm goes off. The alarm is intended to scare away some people who would try to steal your packages and alerts anyone in the vicinity that something is going on. The app can not only alert you, but can also be set to alert your friends or neighbors. The downside is that people can still steal your packages if they aren’t scared off by the loud alarm and you might have to depend on other people near your home at the time to do something about the situation.
- Use ParcelVault.
ParcelVault allows packages and other deliveries to be delivered safely into your home or building, secure and protected from the outside world. It's designed to fit 95% of packages - anything from small standard envelopes to 8' fishing poles. It has a locking mechanism that prevents porch thieves from being able to stick their hands through your door to reach the packages. It’s an ideal solution because:
- It doesn’t require you to allow package delivery people into your home.
- It doesn’t require you to travel to a 3rd party location.
- It doesn’t require you to be home to sign for the delivery.
- It doesn’t require an unsightly large box on your front porch.
- It doesn’t require you to have to monitor security cameras throughout the day.
If you want your packages to be delivered safely to your home, ParcelVault is the ideal solution. You can read more about ParcelVault by clicking here.
What is a Porch Pirate?
A porch pirate is someone who steals packages that are left on people's front porches by delivery services. Picture it like this: you order something online, and the delivery driver leaves it on your doorstep. But before you get a chance to get your package off your front porch, a person sneaks up and steals it. You probably have already experienced this, as surveys have shown that about 8 in 10 people in the United States report having been a victim of porch piracy.
Is Porch Piracy a Crime?
Porch Piracy is considered a crime because taking something that doesn't belong to you is stealing, regardless of where the item is located. In the United States it’s more serious than a misdemeanor crime, because interfering with mail delivery is seen as violating federal law. Taking a package from someone's porch in the US falls under the category of mail theft, which is a felony.
Are Porch Pirates Ever caught?
Most package thefts don't get reported to the police. And out of those that are reported, studies reveal that fewer than 10 percent of the culprits are caught. More often than not, the police will suggest that you ask for a refund for your stolen package instead of asking them to look into it. This is mainly because catching the person who stole it is really unlikely. Plus, a lot of police departments just don't have the time or resources to chase down these types of crimes.
How are Porch Pirates Caught?
A survey by Security.org found that roughly half of the people who report package thefts actually have a home security camera. Individuals without a porch or doorbell camera are usually less likely to report package theft to the authorities, because they have no evidence to provide the authorities. If you are interested in catching porch pirates, the most likely way to do it is with a doorbell camera. However, if you want to prevent someone from stealing your packages, ParcelVault is a better option.