How To Stop Porch Pirates From Stealing Your PackagesUpdated September 14, 2022 Home Security
Have you ever had a package stolen from your porch? These thieves, known commonly as “porch pirates,” work their way through neighborhoods, stealing deliveries from unsuspecting consumers while they’re away from home. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce the risk of porch piracy, and with a little savvy preparation, you can make sure your home is an unwelcome target for porch pirates.
13 Ways To Stop Porch Pirates
- Use package tracking
- Install outdoor security cameras
- Install a doorbell camera
- Install motion sensor lights
- Use Amazon Key
- Use Walmart+ InHome Garage Delivery
- Purchase a porch lock box
- Use a mailbox sensor if mail is getting stolen
- Pickup at nearest Amazon Hub: Amazon Locker or Amazon Counter
- Always require a signature
- Leave packages with a neighbor
- Ship packages to your work
- Use Package Guard
Online shopping, with all of its conveniences and benefits, has one serious drawback. Porch pirates. In fact, more than 25 million Americans have packages stolen from their front stoops by porch pirates each year. And the prevalence of both online shopping and package theft has only increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s estimated that as much as 59% of American households receive at least one package per week. But with the right preparation, you can make sure that your packages make their way safely into your hands, without interference from potential thieves. If you want to know how to foil a burglar, keep reading.
What Is a Porch Pirate?
Over time, thieves who steal delivery packages from outside other people’s front doors have earned the moniker of porch pirates. They swoop in, grab packages and then quickly flee. Sometimes, they’ll even follow delivery trucks and simply grab them before the homeowner has time to bring them inside.
With the rise in package delivery in recent years, particularly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, porch pirates have had more opportunities than ever to make away with stolen packages. It’s a quick and easy way to rob a homeowner, and the chance that something inside the package has some resale value has typically been relatively high.
13 Ways To Stop Porch Pirates
There are several good practices you can put in place to deter porch pirates and
protect yourself from package theft. Let’s dive deeper into how to stop porch pirates and protect yourself from package theft with some smart preparation.
1. Use package tracking
One of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure that packages don’t sit on your porch as a temptation to thieves is to take advantage of package tracking. Almost every shipping service, including the U.S. Postal Service, offers some level of tracking that will let you know when your package has been delivered. If you’re home, you can immediately bring in your package so that it doesn’t remain outside, vulnerable to package theft.
2. Install outdoor security cameras
A simple and effective way to deter porch pirates is to install outdoor security cameras. It’s a good idea to install them in such a way that they’re highly visible, which can act as a theft deterrent. Some homeowners even install dummy cameras in an attempt to deter would-be thieves. But with a functional set of home security cameras, if someone does try to take your packages from outside your front door, you’ll have video footage that can help police quickly track them down.
3. Install a doorbell camera
Much like traditional security cameras, a doorbell camera first acts as a deterrent to porch pirates, and secondarily helps you catch them red-handed if thieves do try to rob your front porch. Many smart doorbells have an accompanying app that sends you an alert when movement is detected.
Some of the best doorbell cameras also feature built-in microphones that allow you to communicate with anyone captured in the doorbell camera’s range. If the visitor is a delivery person, you can provide instructions for leaving your package out of clear sight. If it’s a thief, you can let them know that their actions are being recorded and police are on their way, which may serve to change their minds about that package theft. You can find video doorbell options from a wide variety of home security brands, including SimpliSafe, Nest, Ring, and Arlo.
4. Install motion sensor lights
Motion sensor lights are a great way to deter a would-be package thief. Since they detect movement, these lights switch on to illuminate your porch area when someone gets close. The unexpected illumination has been known to scare away thieves. Be sure to advertise the fact that you have motion sensor lights and cameras, along with a full home security system if you have one. Many porch pirates are deterred by visible signs of home security monitoring.
5. Use Amazon Key
In some locations, Amazon makes the Amazon Key service available for its Amazon Prime members. Amazon key works with a smart lock or certain garage door openers. When an Amazon package arrives, you can specify whether Amazon should deliver inside your garage or front door. Then you can remotely lock the door behind them. With the security camera included in your home kit, you can watch the delivery driver’s actions the entire time. Note: Amazon has suspended in-home front door delivery due to Covid-19 but you can still request garage delivery.
6. Use Walmart+ InHome Garage Delivery
In a partnership with MyQ, this new delivery service from Walmart allows delivery associates one-time access to your garage so that they can leave your purchases safely inside. If you have a refrigerator in your garage, the delivery driver will even put your groceries away for you, as well as pick up any returns you may have.
7. Purchase a porch lock box
Many independent companies have responded to increases in porch pirate theft by developing lock boxes specifically designed to stay on your front stoop and keep your package deliveries safe. The Yale Smart Delivery Box (shown above) is a popular model and it even comes with Wi-Fi notifications.
With a porch lock box, you can provide delivery instructions to any online retailer – these instructions usually consist of a specialized code that delivery drivers or couriers can use to open your lock box. Then they leave your packages inside and secure the lock box before leaving your home. When you arrive, you can access the lockbox and retrieve your delivered packages.
Keep in mind that a high-quality lock box may cost you several hundred dollars. However, if you are in the regular habit of receiving package deliveries, the extra theft protection and peace of mind may be worth it in the long run.
8. Use a mailbox sensor if mail is getting stolen
If thieves in your neighborhood are taking things a step further and taking packages or mail out of your mailbox, then a mailbox sensor may be a good investment for you. With a mailbox sensor, you can be notified whenever someone opens your mailbox. Mailbox sensors have the ability to pair with the rest of your security system. Your sensor will alert you when your mail is delivered, along with sending alerts if someone else is opening your mailbox who shouldn’t be.
With the overall system compatibility, you also can set up your system so that an outside security camera or doorbell camera begins recording video footage whenever the mailbox sensor indicates that your mailbox has been opened. This serves the dual function of acting as a theft deterrent and helping police identify thieves if they are successful in stealing your mail or packages.
9. Pick up at nearest Amazon Hub: Amazon Locker or Amazon Counter
Amazon makes several options available for alternative Amazon package pickup. For example, you can have your packages delivered to an Amazon locker and then pick them up there at your convenience. You also can use your Amazon locker to return Amazon items. This is a free service offered by Amazon, so it serves double duty. You can find Amazon lockers in many locations throughout your city, including convenience stores, pharmacies, and more. Typically, you’ll receive a notification that your package has been delivered, along with a customized code from Amazon that you can use to open your locker.
10. Always require a signature
If you’re wondering how to foil a burglar and stop porch pirates, one option is to require a signature. When you’re making an online purchase and going through the checkout process, you often have the option to select “signature required.” Or, you can create free USPS, UPS, and FedEx accounts and set “require a signature” in your account settings.
If you require a signature, a delivery driver will be unable to leave a package at your home unless someone signs for it. While this delivery option adds the complication of requiring that someone be home to sign for your package, it also guarantees that your delivery won’t be sitting outside your home, just waiting to be snatched by porch pirates.
The signature option may not make sense for every package delivery, but for something especially valuable or special to you, it may be worth the trouble of adding the signature requirement to protect your delivery from theft.
11. Leave packages with a neighbor
If you won’t be home to receive your package, you can leave instructions to have your packages delivered to your neighbor. Leaving your packages with a neighbor that you trust is a great way to thwart porch pirates.
12. Ship packages to your work
If your workplace allows it and delivery is possible at your work location, you may consider having packages delivered to your work instead of your home. That way, you’ll have them in hand immediately, and your packages won’t be sitting on your porch while you’re not home.
13. Use Package Guard
Package Guard is a small, frisbee-shaped device that you can leave on your front porch to act as a virtual security guard. Simply instruct all delivery workers to leave packages on top of your Package Guard – if anyone tries to remove an unattended package, a loud alarm will sound. The alarm can only be silenced by using the companion Package Guard app.
What To Do If Your Package Is Stolen
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, thieves may ultimately be successful in taking your package deliveries. If you suspect this has been the case, first check your package tracking information to confirm that the package isn’t just delayed. You also may want to check with your neighbors to find out if anyone saw the package being delivered or sitting outside your front door at any point.
If you made your purchase using a credit card, check to see whether your credit card company offers purchase protection, which may provide a refund. For expensive items like jewelry or high-end electronics, you can also file a claim with your homeowners insurance company.
Once you’ve done all you can, reach out to the seller or retailer, informing them that your package has been stolen. Many retailers will simply send you a refund or replacement of your order. If your retailer doesn’t honor a refund or replacement, you also can file a claim with the delivery company to seek reimbursement for your stolen package. You should also call the police and report the theft. While the police may not be able to track down your items, they may be able to increase patrols or use your information to track down widespread package theft.