Porch piracy is a real thing. While there are no firm national statistics from the FBI, one insurance industry survey found that 26 million Americans (8 percent of adults) had had a package stolen from outside their house or apartment. All you have to do is type "porch pirate" into YouTube to see dozens of videos of suspected package thieves caught by doorbell cameras.
The holidays are high season for porch piracy. According to a survey by Cove, a home security company, 37 percent of package thefts happen in December, compared with 21 percent in November and much lower percentages the rest of the year. Interestingly, the survey also found that packages were more likely to be stolen from apartment buildings than single-family homes.
The Denver Police Department reported that package theft had increased 68 percent in reported cases, from 421 in 2015 to 708 in 2018, according to the New York Times. The department also noted that only 7 percent of package theft crimes are solved, because it's rare that cops have a solid description of the suspect, according to USA Today.
So how do you keep yourself from becoming a victim? Here are some ways:
- Ask a neighbor to hold your package until you get home. There's usually someone who's home most days. Offer to do something in return.
- Have your merchandise shipped to your office; just check with your company that this is not a problem.
- Use an Amazon locker. Amazon handles more than half of all online purchases in America, and has some ways to keep your packages safer. Customers can have items shipped to secure Amazon Lockers in 900 U.S. cities. These are kiosks located near grocery stores, apartment buildings and other heavily trafficked areas, where packages can be left securely. Once your package has been delivered, you can pick it up from a locker using a special security code. (You don't have to be a Prime member to use this service.)
- Use Amazon Key, an electronic lock system that allows Amazon delivery people to drop off packages directly inside your garage, your house or even the trunk of your car (select models only). This is for Prime customers only.
- Use a smart home security system like Ring or Nest, which has a doorbell camera and alerts you when someone is at your door. Having a system like this can be a deterrent to thieves.
- Check the services offered by the delivery companies. UPS offers a service that allows you to pick the date and time a package is delivered, so you can select a time when you'll be home (an additional fee applies). Packages can also be held at UPS Stores and other locations. FedEx allows you to have a package held at a local FedEx office or a Walgreens store or other locations. The U.S. Postal Service can also hold your packages or redirect delivery. All these companies will also notify you when a package has been delivered if you've created an account with them.