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 shipped to homes in nearly every neighborhood are piling up — and “porch pirates” on the lookout for packages to steal 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 porch pirates are still out there in full force, according to a new survey. Insurance website Value Penguin polled more than 1,500 consumers in September 2022.

They found that…

  • More than one-third (35 percent) of respondents say they’ve had a package or delivery stolen in the past year
  • Single family homes (62 percent) and apartment buildings (27 percent) are hit hardest by porch piracy
  • More than half (60 percent) of respondents who had a stolen package or delivery have at least one security camera yet failed to deter package thieves
  • The estimated average value of stolen goods was $114, and 71 percent of respondents say they received some form of compensation for the stolen package

Of course, the average value of packages delivered during the holidays can be much greater than $114 since many Americans do most of their holiday shopping online.

In fact, over the past five years, online searches using the keywords “package stolen” nearly doubled during December, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Porch piracy during the holidays doesn’t have to be a given, though. This holiday season, you can take precautions to foil porch pirates before they strike.

Here are six tips from the BBB 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

Even though the Value Penguin survey found that 60 percent of those who had packages stolen had at least one security camera, it can’t hurt to install a video doorbell or security camera to help deter thieves or record evidence of the theft.

“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.”

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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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