Along with the rise of online shopping comes the predictable rise of porch package theft. The problem is simple. Delivery drivers (especially during the busy holiday season) will often leave a valuable package out in the open—on the front porch or wedged inside a screen door. Along comes a thief, who swipes the package and makes off with the goodies.
Here are some examples of grinches caught on video poaching packages:
Package theft is often a simple crime of opportunity. Some passers-by, seeing an unattended box from Amazon, CDW, or Staples.com, just can’t resist the lure of easy loot. Other thefts happen when organized theft rings, colorfully dubbed “porch pirates,” follow delivery trucks around town, scooping up the boxes just as quickly as the delivery person can put them down.
To help make your holidays just a little bit merrier, use these tips to prevent porch package theft:
Require a signature. Most couriers provide the option of requiring a signature for delivery. If you select this option and nobody is home to accept the delivery, the delivery person will generally leave a note indicating how you can pick up your package. It might delay getting your goods, but at least you’ll get them!
Track your deliveries. Most couriers have a tool on their website (or on their app) that allows you to predict with some accuracy when the package will be delivered. Consider arranging to be at home when you’re expecting a particularly valuable piece of merchandise.
Sign up for delivery notifications. Some couriers and merchants are able to send you a text alert the moment your package is delivered. These notifications make it very easy to get your package before a thief does.
Pick it up quickly. The longer a box sits on your front porch, the greater the likelihood that thieves will swipe it. Bring packages inside as soon as possible to deny ne’er-do-wells the chance to run off with your stuff.
Get your neighbors involved. If you don’t already know your neighbors, now’s the time to do so. Exchange phone numbers and offer to pick up their packages for them, and see if they’re willing to do the same for you. Hooray, teamwork!
Consider an alternate address. Why have your packages shipped to your home if you spend the whole day at work? If receiving deliveries at work is an option, consider going that route so you know someone will be around to sign for them.
Install a camera (even a fake one). It’s amazing how people will change their behavior when they think they’re being watched. Modern, high-definition security systems are remarkably inexpensive, not to mention do-it-yourself friendly. Even a fake camera with a flashing light is better than nothing.
The good news is if a courier leaves a package on your porch without a signature, the courier is generally responsible for replacing it. Every online retailer also has a claims process for packages ordered and paid for but not received. If all else fails, your credit card company would likely eat the charge for a package that was never delivered to you.