6 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Package Theft

Keep porch pirates at bay with these tips for safeguarding your deliveries.

After spending precious time and money picking out the perfect gift, the last thing you want is for the box to get swiped off your front porch before you can even open it. Porch pirates are a threat whenever you have something delivered, but the problem tends to get worse around the holiday season as online shopping ramps up.

According to a recent survey conducted by the online home security resource SafeWise, more than three in four Americans have experienced package theft in their lifetimes. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the issue worse, as shoppers venture out to shop in stores less frequently. The report notes that more than half of Americans plan to shop online more this year than they did in 2020, and additional deliveries mean more opportunities for theft.

Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to safeguard your front porch to ensure secure deliveries. Try these strategies to keep your packages safe from porch pirates this holiday season.

stack of packages delivered and left on front porch of home
Cavan Images / Getty Images

1. Track your deliveries.

One of the easiest ways to prevent package theft is to retrieve your item as soon as it's delivered. Most delivery services offer tracking information that keeps you updated on your package's progress until it reaches your door. Some companies will even send you alerts when the delivery vehicle is within a few stops of your house. Plan to be home when it's scheduled for delivery to limit the amount of time your package is left outside. If you can't be home at the time of delivery, consider asking a neighbor to keep an eye on your doorstep and grab the package when it arrives.

2. Select the "signature required" option at checkout.

Most delivery drivers simply deposit packages near the front door, but if you're worried about your package sitting outside unattended, you can typically opt for a signature requirement upon delivery. That way, your package will not be delivered unless you're there to receive it in person. However, this option might not be practical for those who receive a lot of packages, as it could result in a backlog of missed deliveries if you're frequently away from home. But if you're expecting an item that's particularly valuable, this can be a smart way to ensure it gets to you safely.

3. Pick up packages at a secure location.

Having packages delivered to your doorstep isn't the only option. Many delivery services allow you to route your package to an alternative location where it'll be securely held until you can pick it up. FedEx, for example, allows you to redirect incoming deliveries to a nearby Walgreens, while Amazon Prime members can have their items sent to an Amazon Locker or Counter location, which are located inside or around many supermarkets, pharmacies, and other retail businesses nationwide.

4. Use a lockable delivery box.

Invest in a package storage box to ensure your items aren't left out in the open when they arrive. These lockable, lidded containers can hold multiple parcels and offer protection from thieves as well as inclement weather. Set one next to your front door and add a padlock (make sure it's unlocked first) so the delivery driver can lock up after placing your items inside. When entering shipping information for your purchase, be sure to fill out the "delivery instructions" section so the driver knows where the box is located and how to operate it.

5. Install a security camera.

Outdoor security cameras, whether mounted near your entryway or built into your doorbell, are a helpful tool for preventing package theft. Not only can they alert you to a delivery, but they can also catch porch pirates in the act. Many systems are equipped with motion sensors and a notification system that alerts you when someone is at your door, and some even feature two-way audio capabilities. You can give the delivery person instructions on where to place the package—or alert a potential thief that they're on camera. If you do have a package stolen, you'll have a recording of the incident you can turn over to the police.

6. Team up with your neighbors.

Your neighbors can serve as one of the best defenses against porch pirates. Work together to look out for strangers in the neighborhood and keep an eye on deliveries at each other's homes. Neighborhood social media groups and community apps like Nextdoor can help with this. If you feel comfortable, consider having your package delivered to a neighbor if you'll be away from home, or ask a neighbor to grab the package from your doorstep if you can't be there for delivery.

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