Help Outsmart Porch Pirates
If you’re smart about your deliveries, you can reduce your chances of being a victim.
As long as there have been home deliveries, there have been people stealing packages. However, since the rise of Amazon Prime® in recent years, the "porch pirate" problem has gotten much worse. According to a nationwide Comcast survey, almost one in four people in the U.S. was a victim of package theft, and about half knew someone who was a victim.1
While numbers for last year have not been released, Amazon shipped a reported 5 billion items through its Prime service in 2017.2 Prime is a subscription the company offers that enables online shoppers to receive free 2-day shipping on a multitude of items - an offering that many consider to be a significant factor in the demise of some of the nation's retail stores. Amazon Prime is only one of several package delivery companies.
Millions of packages are being delivered every day in this country, and many of them are left outside if the customer isn’t home or doesn’t answer the door right away. For a thief, these easy scores can be irresistible. It's up to you to make things not so easy for them.
Use security cameras.
Perhaps the most obvious thing you can do is to install security cameras. A visible camera can be a deterrent to criminals. They will be far less likely to grab your package if they know they'll be seen, let alone recorded. Cameras can be purchased for relatively little money and can save you a great deal of grief in the future.
Get a watchdog.
Do you have a dog that barks when someone comes to the door? If you're home, a dog can notify you that your package is there because the delivery person won't always knock. They can also alert you if a stranger is on your doorstep. If you're not home, and the dog is, the barking might scare off the intruder. Most people think of large dogs like dobermans or rottweilers when they think of watch dogs, but smaller breeds like pomeranians typically will not hesitate to bark in the presence of strangers.
Talk with your neighbors.
Have conversations with your neighbors about your concerns, and chances are, they will help you keep an eye out. If you've already had a porch pirate incident, they can be extra observant. Work out an arrangement in which you help each other spot suspicious activity. Perhaps there is an existing neighborhood watch system set up in your area.
Make your porch less visible.
Thieves can’t steal something they don't know is there, and delivery people generally leave packages right in front of your door. If you make your front porch less visible from the street/sidewalk, passersby probably won’t be able to see there is something there to be stolen. Perhaps plant a bush or add some decorative item(s) that obscure the area where packages are left, or leave a message with the delivery company instructing them to leave packages at the back door where they won’t be seen from the street.
Have items sent to the office.
One surefire way to prevent packages from being stolen from your doorstep is to not have them sent there to begin with. As long as your employer doesn't object, consider having packages shipped to your workplace. Most packages are delivered during regular business hours. Get your packages at work and take them home with you at the end of the day.
Put a hold on packages when you'll be traveling.
Try not to order packages that will be delivered when you're out of town. If you do travel, however, put a hold on packages at the post office, UPS, FedEx, etc. Delivery services should agree to suspend delivery of your items until you return.
If you are a big Amazon user, you may be able to have items delivered to an Amazon Locker, where you can pick them up. This is only available in certain locations, but if it's offered near you, you can add one of the company's locker locations to your account's delivery addresses and specify to have items shipped there. Amazon will give you a code that you'll enter on a screen at the locker to receive your package. Amazon Locker Nevada locations are currently available in Las Vegas, Henderson, and Reno.
Parcel Drop Lockers
If you’re really serious about package safety, you can purchase a parcel drop locker at a hardware store or online and have it installed in your home or garage. The locker has a door on the outside for deliveries and another on the inside, where you can pick up the parcel. Couriers open the outside door by scanning a code on the locker or entering a code into a keypad.
Package delivery is not going to slow down anytime soon, and that means the porch pirate problem most likely won’t either. However, if you’re smart about your deliveries, you can help prevent yourself from being a victim.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC