How to Thwart Porch Pirates
December 16, 2019
As the holiday shopping season gets started and more people are shopping online, the threat of having your packages stolen from your doorstep continues growing.
One of the modern plagues during the holiday season is the emergence of "porch pirates" - the thieves that cruise neighborhoods looking for packages that have been delivered on people's doorsteps by UPS, FedEx and other delivery services.
Thefts of packages from front porches have become a nationwide epidemic, with 26 million Americans having a holiday package stolen from a front porch or doorstep in 2018, according to research by insurancequotes.com.
One of the difficulties in thwarting porch pirates is that it is most often a crime of convenience. Typically, someone sees a package sitting on a doorstep and there are no cars in the driveway, so they walk up and grab it.
As the problem has grown rapidly, fortunately there are new services and products on the market that can help reduce the chances of having one of your packages stolen after it's been delivered.
BoxLock - This service provides homeowners with a smart padlock designed to protect deliveries by scanning packages so that delivery drivers can unlock a storage box on the customer's porch. Only packages addressed to the customer - and that are actually out for delivery that day - will unlock the BoxLock. Once unlocked, the delivery person securely places the package in the box.
Landport - This is a secured delivery drop box homeowners can install on their porch or stoop. The box, which is bolted down, has an electronic keypad on which a delivery driver enters a unique access code to open the lid. They place the package in the box and shut it, and it locks by itself.
Amazon Key - The service by online retailer Amazon works like this: When a delivery arrives at your house and you're not home, the courier scans a barcode that sends a request to Amazon's cloud. If it's approved, Amazon remotely unlocks your door and starts recording video through its Cloud Cam. The delivery is left inside the house.
Once the courier relocks the door, the customer receives a notification that the delivery was just made (accompanied by a short video showing the successful drop-off).
Amazon Locker - Use the online zip code locator to find a locker near you, and use that as your delivery address. It's free to use - and if you're a Prime member, you're entitled to free two-day shipping.
Package Guard - This frisbee-like device is a virtual security guard. Connect it to your Wi-Fi and position it on your doorstep, instructing delivery people to place packages on top of it. If a porch pirate attempts to steal the package or the Package Guard device itself, a loud internal siren will be activated. The only way to deactivate the alarm is via the Package Guard app.
Other things you can do
- When paying for your online shopping, check the "signature required" box. This is an option with all the major services, like UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS.
- If you're rarely around to receive packages, consider signing up for a paid package-receiving service that will receive and protect your packages until you can pick them up.
- Set up a security camera.
- Install motion-sensor lights.
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