Don’t let a porch pirate’s crime of opportunity throw a Grinch into your holiday gift plans.

Now that the holidays are upon us, packages are piling up on doorsteps in nearly every neighborhood — and “porch pirates” are ready to steal them. These crafty criminals are ramping up in hopes for a big bounty this holiday season.

Porch piracy surged during the pandemic when many consumers avoided grocery and retail stores to stay healthy. And package thieves are still out there in full force. Product review website polled more than 1,000 Americans in October 2023 about their experiences with this crime.

They found that…

  • More than 2 in 5 of those polled (44%) have had a package stolen in their lifetime, and nearly 1 in 5 (17%) had a package stolen within the last four months.
  • Of the strategies available to prevent package theft, 38% of respondents said that they “schedule shipments for when [they] are home.”
  • The majority of people (88%) are concerned about having their online purchases stolen. However, “18% of online shoppers take no precautions to ensure safe delivery…”

Major carriers like UPS are trying to minimize the risk of package theft.

They’ve come up with DeliveryDefense – a system that uses artificial intelligence to access past delivery outcomes and predict how a delivery will fare in the future. If a specific location or area scores low for secured deliveries, extra measures are taken to monitor that package.

While companies continue to develop ways to curb this threat, you can also take precautions to foil porch pirates before they strike.

Here are six tips from the Better Business Bureau for keeping shipped packages out of the hands of criminals.

1. Check with your neighbors first

Before assuming the package that you received a delivery email about was stolen, check for an image in the message showing the delivery on the porch. If that’s not your porch, the package may have been wrongly delivered to one of your neighbors.

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2. Don’t leave packages on the porch for long

If you get a text message notifying you of a package delivery while you’re at work, out shopping, or running errands, don’t assume the package on your porch or beside the door will be fine for a few hours. Contact a neighbor or friend who lives close by and ask if they can retrieve the package for safekeeping until you can pick it up.

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3. Have the package shipped to the store

If you live near Target, Walmart, or another retailer that you purchase items from online, have packages shipped to the store for curbside pickup. That way, you won’t have to battle holiday shopping crowds, you’ll avoid shipping costs, and your packages won’t entice porch pirates.

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4. Utilize security cameras found that 45% percent of Americans have a doorbell camera or security system installed. It can’t hurt to install some sort of monitoring system to help deter thieves or record evidence of the theft.

The Better Business Bureau agrees.

“Consider including a sign that specifically states that the residence is under surveillance,” says the BBB. “Even if a package is stolen from your porch, the video evidence will help law enforcement track down the thieves.”

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5. Require a delivery signature

When purchasing items for shipping, specify that you must sign for the delivery. Of course, requiring a signature can be problematic if you’re at the office all day. Then you might have to drive to the shipping company to get your undelivered package.

If that’s the case, ask a neighbor who works from home to grab and hold the package for you or have the package delivered to your work address instead.

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6. Use a package receiving service

“Some major retailers, such as Amazon, offer secure package receiving locations away from your home that you can access with a key or code,” says the BBB. “Some independent businesses also specialize in this service, allowing you to designate a different delivery location for your packages and the ability to pick them up on your way home.”

The holidays are usually a busy time for shoppers – and criminals. Take steps to stop porch pirates in their tracks so you can keep up the gift giving and online shopping all season long.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.


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