How to Prevent Package Theft
Every day 1.7 million packages are stolen or lost in the US, costing businesses $25 million daily. Despite some retailers and package delivery companies making an effort to stop porch piracy, much of this burden is still put on the consumer.
So with this is mind, here are some ways you can prevent package theft.
At the Point of Sale
There are a number of precautions you can take before you click the purchase button.
Specify Where it’s Placed. Many retailers will have a form for delivery instructions. For instance, you can request that a package be put behind a fence or next to a side door.
Require a Signature. When setting up shipping info, you typically can require a signature upon delivery. Although it can be a hassle to stick around for a package, at least you’ll be sure to get it. This might be reserved for higher-priced items.
Make it a Gift. Another option you can choose upon checkout is to make the item a gift. As a result, the delivered package will typically have no markings on it to reveal the contents or the brand name--thieves look for these clues when casing properties for potential targets.
Set up Notifications. Setting up delivery notifications can also help with safeguarding deliveries. This can be done through some retailers like Amazon before or during the purchase. It can also be done with the shipping company like UPS. This lets you know where your box is in the delivery cycle or when it is expected to be delivered.
Send it Somewhere Safe
Another way to stay one step ahead of porch pirates is to send your packages to some other destination, so it won’t sit on a porch for hours. Here are some ideas:
Your Place of Employment. Have your package delivered to your work--that’s if you still go there regularly and your employer doesn’t mind.
A Relative, Friend or Neighbor. Have your package delivered to the home of a relative or friend that you know will be home. Or, if you have a good relationship with a neighbor that is often home, have some important packages sent to them instead.
The Post Office. Have your package held at your local post office for pickup. A bit of a hassle, but you know for sure it will be safe.
Ship to Store. Take advantage of the “Ship to Store” option that many stores offer and then pick it up. Also, this usually means free shipping.
- A Locker. Amazon offers a locker service that allows you to pick up your package from a secure location. These are secure lock boxes in public locations where packages can be delivered. Amazon is a strong early adopter of this method but other shippers and retailers are quickly following suit.
Have the Delivery Concealed
A simple idea, but just being sure packages are not visible from the road can make a big difference. Ben Stickle, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Administration at Middle Tennessee State University, did a study in which he and his team studied 67 YouTube videos in part to understand who package thieves are. They concluded that keeping packages should be considered as a deterrent, stating:
High visibility from roadways and easily recognized brands are likely a critical factor in package theft; therefore, concealing delivered packages should be considered.
Perhaps this means putting a large object, like a bench or plant, on your porch where packages can be hidden by your delivery driver.
Choose Your Delivery Person
USPS if Possible
Depending on the size of the package, you may want to choose the United States Postal Service (USPS) as your delivery provider. This tends to be the best option as stealing US Mail from a mailbox is a federal offense that carries much steeper penalties than porch piracy crimes.
The Driver You Know
As frequently as many Americans have packages delivered, they often know who their driver is for each major parcel delivery company. Perhaps one driver delivers the package more consistently on time or places it in the best place more often. In this case choose the one you trust the most. In fact, in one study, it is shown that UPS is the most trusted delivery company.
For people having a lot of packages sent to their home it is probably a good idea to beef up home security. Here are some options:
A Full Security System
The general installation of a full-blow home security system is a good way to protect your home as these systems will usually have some sort of exterior monitoring or detection system that can alert the homeowner of intruders.
For those looking for some less extensive options, doorbell cameras offer a way to monitor your porch from a remote location. Although these can deter, in many cases they just serve to give you video of a crime.
“These tend to be crimes of opportunity,” said deputy chief Wilhelm Young of the Montclair Police Department in Montclair, New Jersey. “An individual will see a package, run up and grab it without forethought. Even if there’s a sign to indicate there’s a camera present, they won’t notice it. And those who do check for a camera often cover their faces or keep their backs to it.”
Lockable Package Box
Probably the best way to protect your packages without exposing your home to strangers is to get a lockable package box, which is emerging on the market of late. The leader in the market is DeliverySafe. It can be placed on a front porch or by an entryway where packages are usually left and has a keypad that allows delivery people to open it and lock packages safely inside. It is also built to hold multiple, large parcels and can even help keep groceries fresh with insulation and optional ice packs.
Package theft appears to be here to stay for years to come, as online shopping continues to skyrocket. Although there are some efforts by retailers, delivery companies and legislation to help thwart it, the best bet for now is to count on yourself. This includes taking measures at the point of sale, sending it to a safer place, choosing your delivery company, and upping your home security. Your absolute safest bet is to get a lockable delivery box.
This article is part of our full report on package theft in America. Here are all of the blogs posts on this topic:
- How Common is Package Theft?
- Where and When Does Package Theft Occur?
- Who are the Victims of Package Theft and Are You at Risk?
- Who are Porch Pirates?
- Who is Responsible for Package Theft and What is Being Done About It?
- How to Prevent Package Theft?
- What is the Impact of Package Theft on Online Shopping?
- 4 Steps to Take When Your Package is Stolen
- A Complete Look at Package Theft Statistics
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