Online shopping is an integral part of our daily lives, providing convenience that allows you to browse and purchase items without leaving home. However, one of the biggest downsides to online shopping is package theft. With the holidays in full swing, this opportunistic crime will likely surge as many packages are left unattended on people’s doorsteps.
What Is Package Theft?
Package theft is when someone steals a package delivered to a residential address. Here’s how package theft usually happens:
- Delivery: When you order an item online, the product is shipped and delivered to your home address.
- Package Placement: If no one’s home, the delivery person will leave the package on your doorstep or porch.
- Theft: Opportunistic thieves — or porch pirates — take advantage of the unattended package and quickly snatch it from the doorstep or porch.
Understanding the Risk of Package Theft
When it comes to package theft, it’s important to identify common targets and vulnerable locations, as well as recognize the potential threats and risks associated with package delivery.
Common Targets and Vulnerable Locations
- Residential areas with high-foot traffic: Porch pirates often target neighborhoods with high pedestrian traffic — e.g., busy thoroughfares or areas near public transportation hubs — since they can easily go unnoticed while snatching packages.
- Homes with poor visibility: Homes with limited visibility from neighboring properties or the street can provide cover for thieves to grab packages and make a quick getaway.
- Unsecured apartment complexes: If you rent an apartment, you may be a victim of package theft, especially if your complex lacks secure entry points or a common mailroom.
What Attracts Porch Pirates
- Predictable delivery times: Porch pirates may take advantage of predictable delivery schedules to time their attempts when residents are likely to be away.
- High-value items: Valuable or recognizable packages are more likely to attract the attention of thieves.
- Lack of security measures: Homes without visible security measures, such as surveillance cameras, package lockers, or well-lit entryways, may be more appealing targets for thieves.
How to Prevent Package Theft
Here are some actions you can take to help prevent package theft:
Secure Delivery Options
One way to help combat porch pirates is to ensure your package is delivered to a secure location. For USPS deliveries, you can set up a PO box and have your package delivered to your PO box address. Private carriers like FedEx and UPS allow you to have packages delivered to their store, where you can pick them up. Additionally, Amazon offers storage lockers at various locations where you can pick up your package. You can even ask your employer if you can arrange package deliveries to your workplace.
Installing home security measures is a great way to ensure safe deliveries. Visible deterrents such as motion-activated lights, video doorbells, security cameras, and alarms can discourage potential thieves and enhance overall security. Plus, many homeowners insurance companies provide discounts for installing modern home security devices.
Communication and Coordination
Many delivery providers offer options to customize delivery preferences, such as specifying preferred times of day or requiring a signature for delivery. Notifying delivery services of your preferences can better align the process with your schedule, minimizing the chances of packages being left unattended for extended periods.
Smart Home Technology
Using smart home technology, such as smart locks and smart delivery boxes, can help ensure a safe delivery experience. Smart locks allow you to remotely control access to your property, granting access for package deliveries and locking up afterward. Smart delivery boxes provide a secure area for packages, safeguarding them from potential theft until you come home.
Additionally, use your carrier’s app for delivery tracking and notifications to stay informed in real-time about your shipment’s status.
Community and Neighborhood Initiatives
Establishing open lines of communication with neighbors creates a sense of community watch, allowing residents to look out for one another and help battle package theft together. Consider making a neighborhood group chat or social media page where residents can share information about expected deliveries, provide tips and resources, and notify each other when packages have been received safely. Collaborating with local authorities and law enforcement can also foster a proactive approach to security, allowing you and your neighbors to report suspicious activity and receive a response promptly.
What to Do If Your Package Is Stolen From Front Door
You can take these steps if you discover that your expected package is not at your front door.
- Document the incident with photos of the area and check any surveillance cameras that might have recorded the theft.
- Report the incident right away to both local authorities and the carrier.
- Provide them with as much information as possible, including the estimated time of the theft and a description of the stolen package.
- Check if the carrier offers any insurance coverage or reimbursement options to help recover the value of the stolen package.
If you can’t get reimbursement from the carrier, consider initiating the homeowners insurance claims process with your provider. Most homeowners insurance policies cover stolen packages under personal property coverage. However, if your stolen package was a high-value item — e.g., fine art, jewelry, antique, etc. — you’ll likely need scheduled property coverage to help get the reimbursement you need.
Package theft is an unfortunate risk of online shopping. However, taking a proactive approach can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of this crime. And in the event of package theft, you want to ensure you have reliable homeowners insurance. Consider Mercury, where we offer affordable homeowners insurance without compromising quality.