Porch pirates (package thieves) are becoming an increasingly common problem in residential neighborhoods, leaving many homeowners feeling powerless and frustrated. Not only can it be costly, but it can also be a major inconvenience when you are expecting important deliveries. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself from parcel theft and ensure your packages arrive safely. In this article, we will explore nine effective tips for preventing package theft and outsmarting porch thieves.
According to a recent article titled: "2022 Package Theft Annual Report" published by Security.org - about 49 million Americans have had at least one package stolen by porch pirates in the last 12 months. While another article published by CTV News in Toronto Canada cites a recent survey conducted by FedEx which concluded that about 1 in 4 Canadians (24% of the population) have also had packages go missing from their doorsteps.
With online shopping projected to increase from 3.3 Trillion in 2022 to 5.4 Trillion in 2026, package thefts are also projected to rise accordingly - which is why it is important to take some simple, but effective precautions and preventive measures now so that you and you're family can avoid future disappointment.
How to Prevent Package Theft:
The following 9 Tips can help you and your family minimize the risks!
Tip 1: Home Security System
Home security systems and security cameras are one of the most effective measures you can take to prevent package theft. If packages do happen to go missing from your doorstep, you can use the video footage to get an accurate description of the thief and then use that information to report them to the police.
Effective Security Features:
Indoor / Outdoor Security Cameras
When installing security cameras, be sure to place them near entry points such as doors and windows; designate at least one camera to monitor your porch where packages are delivered and Make sure that the camera’s field of view covers the entire delivery area, including any hiding spots where thieves may try to conceal themselves. Ensure that the camera resolution and frame rate is high enough for license plates or facial recognition if necessary.
Motion Detection Sensors
Motion detection lights and sensors can turn on lights on when people approach your porch or delivery area. This not only deters parcel thieves due to the "surprise" factor, but will ensure that any suspicious activity is caught on video day and night.
Smart Door Locks
Remote door locks, combined with video doorbells mentioned below - can be an effective theft deterrent - in that the camera doorbell will allow you to detect package delivery, have two way communication with the delivery person, and remotely open the front door or garage door to allow the driver to place your packages in a secure location - then lock the door behind them when they leave.
Various automations including smart lights, blinds, and timer plugs with stereo equipment attached - on rotating schedules, can all give the impression that someone is home and deter risk of theft.
Visible Cameras and Security Signage
Making sure that cameras installed near doorways are highly visible and ample signage (advertising security cameras and alarm equipment) is posted in hight traffic areas on the premises can also make thieves think twice about targeting your home.
All of the above can provide a cohesive level of security and can not only deter parcel thieves but provide overall peace of mind when you're at work or away for holidays.
Home Security Made Easy!
Companies like Calgary Security Systems Inc. offer affordable solutions and can help design the perfect system to fit your needs... including Smart Door Locks, Smart Lighting, Home Automation Features, Motion Sensors, Video Doorbells, Monitoring Services, and more - all integrated into one easy to use Application for your smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop computer(s). The company provides free Home and Business Security System Quotes to the local Calgary Area.
Tip 2: Video Doorbells
Doorbell cameras have become increasingly popular over the last several years, and it’s easy to see why – they make it easy to keep an eye on your packages while they wait at your doorstep. Video doorbells also provide a number of benefits, including motion detection alerts that can be sent to you when someone is near the package or approaching the front door. You can also use them to communicate with delivery personnel and have them leave packages in safe locations if needed. They even come with two-way audio so you can hear what's going on outside and talk back if necessary. Plus, many models offer cloud recording capabilities so you don't miss out on any important activity around your home.
Doorbell cameras can also be integrated with the full camera security systems mentioned in the "Prevent Package Theft" video above - and, combined with smart lock technology, can allow the homeowner to remotely open locked doors so the delivery person can place packages in the foyer, garage, etc. while you lock the door behind them when they leave.
With convenient features like these, video doorbells can be an invaluable asset for combating package theft!
Tip 3: Require Delivery Signature
If you're shipping items, especially expensive ones, it's important to take extra precautions to protect your packages from theft. Requiring a Delivery Signature means that the recipient (or someone at the address) must sign for the package in order for it to be delivered - and whoever signs is documented in the system for later reference if needed.
With a signature delivery service, your packages are less likely to end up in the wrong hands and won't be left unattended in a non-secure location. Some carriers will even allow you to specify alternate delivery locations if you know that no one will be home during delivery time.
When choosing an alternate delivery location, ensure to notify your carrier asap to avoid routing issues and delayed deliveries as result (read more on Alternate Delivery Locations below).
Tip 4: Use Lockboxes
Packages left in visible and high traffic locations on customer doorsteps might be the biggest cause of theft. Many of the shady characters stealing deliveries either comb neighborhoods looking for obvious signs of package delivery or follow delivery trucks around neighborhoods and collect the shipments left on the customer's porch when the carrier leaves the premises. It is recommended for delivery companies to leave packages in hidden locations or locations that are not visible from the street.
An even better method, however - is to install a lockbox/delivery box and have the carrier leave your packages inside the box - instead.
Lockboxes may be described as "parcel safes" and can be quite effective in protecting deliveries. They are secure steel containers that can be attached to a wall or railing outside your home and can only be opened with a code entered on a keypad. As well as providing an added layer of security for parcels, these boxes can also act as mailboxes for large documents that don’t fit in regular letter slots. Customers can choose from a variety of sizes so they’re suitable for all types of packages and shipments no matter their dimensions or weight.
Tip 5: Track Packages Online
The first step in tracking your package is ensure that you are selecting a shipping service that provides this feature at the time of purchase. When you have received your tracking number (bar code information) you can find out when the package has been shipped and its estimated arrival date. You can do this by checking the shipping company’s website or calling customer service for more information. Once you have the necessary details, you can use a variety of online tools to track your package in real-time as it is scanned and moves through various points of transit. Many carriers provide detailed information that will show you exactly where your parcel is at any given moment so that you can anticipate its arrival and take steps to ensure its safe delivery.
Email and Text Notifications
Many carriers also provide the option to Receive Email and Text Notifications when your package status is updated in the system - including when the package is scheduled for delivery. This allows you to plan accordingly to make sure someone will be able to receive the package on arrival or have a friend or neighbor collect the package from your doorstep once it has been delivered.
Tip 6: Don’t Leave Packages Unattended
As mentioned above, the biggest causes of home delivery theft might just be that packages are being left in visible, nonsecure locations in the first place. If packages must be left outside - and a lockbox or secure location is not an option - then try to make sure the packages you receive are hidden and not left unsupervised for too long.
If possible, ask your carrier if your packages can be delivered in a certain time window when someone will be home so they can be brought inside immediately. Keep in mind that many carriers follow predefined routes - so scheduling deliveries may not be an option. If the carrier is unable to accommodate your requested delivery window, try to arrange for a neighbor or friend to watch out for the delivery person and take your parcels in as soon as they arrive.
Tip 7: Provide detailed Delivery Instructions
When ordering online, most companies provide a "Special Delivery Instructions" or "Notes" section on the shipment manifest that customers can use to provide additional information.
You may want to include specific delivery instructions such as “Leave the package with my neighbor (be sure to provide the unit number)” or “Place the item behind the planter or side gate” so that the package is not left visible on your front porch for anyone to take. Additionally, let your carrier know if you won't be home when they're due to deliver so they can make alternative arrangements for delivery or to have the package held for pick-up.
Tip 8: Schedule Deliveries
When ordering items online, some stores give the option to schedule and customize your delivery time frame. If possible, select a time when someone will be at home to accept the delivery or bring it indoors if left without a signature. Again, you could ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye out for the delivery if you happen to be away when the package is scheduled for delivery.
Tip 9: Select an Alternate Delivery Location
When ordering your packages, you can often select a specific or alternate delivery address during checkout.
Alternate Delivery Locations
- Suppose that you are not usually home during the daytime - then you may want to arrange for your packages to be delivered to a neighbor or family member. Be sure to choose someone who can be trusted for secure storage until you’re able to retrieve the packages from them.
- If your workplace allows it, you can ask the courier service to deliver it directly there instead - which should provide a signature and a secure location until you are able to retrieve it. This provides a much better option than having the carrier leave your package(s) unattended outside your house all day long.
- Another option may be to have the carrier hold your package for pick-up. This also ensures a safe delivery transaction as the delivery company retains the Chain of Custody until you physically come to the holding facility and pick up the package... these companies often require identification and a tracking number/delivery notification to receive the shipment. Most courier deliveries default to the "Hold for Pick-Up" option if the package is not successfully delivered to the customer in one or two attempts. Be sure to pick-up your shipments in a timely manner – and check out the carrier terms of service for how long packages will be held before being Returned to Sender (RTS).
- If you are receiving frequent deliveries, especially larger shipments - then it may be worthwhile for you to have your deliveries shipped to a paid Drop Location. Companies like UPS Store and most commercial Storage Facilities (such as Sentinel and Maple Leaf) will accept deliveries on behalf of their customers - in which case the carrier obtains a signature from the employee on shift and then leaves the package(s) in the care of the store or in the customers storage unit. UPS store may require timely pick-up on your part so as to not clutter their store. Again, you will need to check the terms of service with your preferred receiving company to make sure their services are right for your needs.
10) Bonus Tip - Shop Local when you Can
Shopping locally helps reduce the risk of package theft since it eliminates the need for delivery altogether. Whether it’s groceries or gifts, many stores in your area will be more than happy to accommodate pre-orders and provide curbside pick-up. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that your items aren't at risk of being stolen while being left at unattended your home.
We're not suggesting to eliminate online shopping – but helping to support local business when you can is a great way to give back to the community, it helps to fund projects in your area and also helps to reduce emissions from excessive delivery vehicles — a win-win-win for everyone!
In conclusion, package theft is a growing concern and is only expected to get worse as online shopping and e-commerce sales continue to grow by leaps and bounds, but there are several methods mentioned in this article that you can use to prevent it from happening. Tips such as installing security cameras, requiring a signature for delivery, setting up tracking and alerts for your packages, and having parcels shipped to an alternate location, all can help to outsmart porch pirates and to avoid disappointment. Package theft prevention is an ongoing process and requires vigilance. Being proactive by mitigating the opportunities for would-be thieves will go a long way in preventing package loss now and in the years to come.
Article by Calgary Security Systems Inc. - a local alarm system company that has been serving Calgary, Airdrie, Strathmore, Okotoks, Bragg Creek, Cochrane, and nearby areas since 2004.
We hope you found our article interesting and informative, and we look forward to hearing from you!