‘Porch pirate’ is a term used to describe people who steal packages from other people’s homes.
An estimated 36% of Americans have had a package stolen from outside their home at least once, with urban and suburban areas more likely targets than rural ones. And with more than 800 million packages delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, one or more of these packages could be yours.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep your deliveries safe.
- Give the delivery service special instructions. Some services let you indicate where to leave your package if you're not home. You can instruct drivers to leave a package at a back door, with a building superintendent, or in a coded lockbox.
- Require package signature. If you must sign for your items, then your packages can’t be left on the doorstep. If you’re not home when the package is delivered, the courier will leave a note letting you know the date they will try to make another delivery or where you can pick up the item instead.
- Keep tabs on your packages by signing up for alerts.
- Set up a hiding spot for delivery drivers to leave packages so that they are not visible from the street.
- Invest in a camera. A security camera will serve as a great deterrent for criminals and it helps to prevent package theft. It can also help law enforcement to identify the thieves if a package is stolen.
- Deliver packages to your work. If allowed, have all your items delivered to your place of work. It may be a bit more inconvenient, but at least they will not be stolen.
- Have your packages delivered to a friend or family member. If you know someone who is home during the day, you might ask to use their address for delivery. That way, it will not sit on a doorstep and risk being stolen.
- Designate a specific delivery location. The USPS will allow you to authorize them to leave packages at locations other than the porch. Other locations may include a back door, side door, neighbor, or even a garage. To find out if this is an option, create an account with the USPS and enter your package tracking number.
- Use a secure mailbox service. Sign up for a PO Box at the post office or even a location such as the UPS Store. You can have all packages delivered to these locations, and they will be held securely until you stop by and pick them up. There are fees associated with these services, but if you get package deliveries frequently it might be worth it.
- Be a good neighbor. Get to know your neighbors to help one another out by picking up packages you see outside, then send texts or emails to alert one another. That way the parcels are safe inside and won't be grabbed by thieves.
- As a good neighbor, be alert and report all crime and suspicious activity. If you see a package being stolen from a neighbor's home, call 911 and report a "crime in progress." If you see someone acting suspicious or a vehicle that might be casing the neighborhood, call police immediately with an accurate description of the suspect(s) and/or vehicle as well as exactly what they were doing. Being a good neighbor is always the best defense against crime.
With a bit of foresight and some friendly coordination with friends and neighbors, you can help thwart porch piracy and help keep your neighborhood safe.