The holiday season is big business for porch pirates. The US Postal Service is projecting between 850-950 million package deliveries for the 2021 holiday season. According to market research firm C+R Research, package theft continues to be an issue for many Americans, with approximately one-quarter (23%) of consumers experiencing package theft in 2021. And although in the state of Texas it is a felony to steal packages off front porches, not all thieves are deterred. BBB reminds consumers that there are steps which can be taken to prevent porch pirates from getting away with the goods.
Package thieves, also known as “porch pirates,” often take advantage of an opportunity and may frequent a neighborhood or community multiple times before moving on to another. They will often target houses that provide a quick in-and-out route, especially if the porch or area where packages are delivered is within 25 feet of the street and are easily visible. Over the past five years, internet searches using the keywords “package stolen” nearly doubled during December, demonstrating the impact of this crime on households across the nation.
“The increase in online shopping presents an opportune time for thieves to plunder holiday loot off the doorsteps of unsuspecting households,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “It’s very to take preventive measures and keep an eye out for criminals canvassing neighborhoods for packages left on doorsteps.”
BBB provides the following tips to prevent package thieves from affecting your holiday plans (and the rest of the year):
Check with neighbors. Sometimes, your package may not be stolen at all, just simply at the wrong address. Before filing a report or contacting the sender, check with your neighbors and see if the delivery service may have dropped off your package at the wrong address. Many delivery companies will take pictures of your package in the designated location – be sure to check for the photo and verify it is at the right spot.
Don’t leave packages unattended. When possible, do not leave delivered packages unattended for long periods. If you are expecting a package, attempt to schedule its delivery when you know you will be home. Ask your neighbors if they would mind holding on to packages delivered if you plan to be gone for an extended time during the holidays. Have it delivered to your office if your employer will allow it.
Ship to store. If purchasing an item from a retailer that has a physical location near your home, consider shipping it there instead. Retailers will require proof of purchase or identification before releasing packages they have received, and this is a sure way to avoid porch pirates.
Use a security camera. Installing a home security system with cameras or simply a camera-enabled doorbell is a great way to deter package theft, especially when highly visible. Consider including a sign that specifically states that the residence is under surveillance. Even if a package is stolen from your porch, the video evidence will help law enforcement track down the thieves.
Require a signature. Many delivery companies include the option to require a signature before leaving a package, letting you take physical possession of the item as soon as it is delivered. While this option works well for those who are often at home, especially for expensive items, it may create difficulties in receiving packages if your schedule and the delivery service are different. Be sure to check with the delivery company on their policy for packages that are not signed for; they may return it to the sender after a certain number of attempts.
Consider a package receiving service. Some major retailers, such as Amazon, offer secure package receiving locations away from your home that you can access with a key or code. Some independent businesses also specialize in this service, allowing you to designate a different delivery location for your packages and the ability to pick them up on your way home.
If you fear that your package has been stolen, file a report with your local police department and the delivery company. Depending on which delivery service you use, they may offer insurance or other policies to reimburse you for your losses.
For more holiday tips, visit the BBB Holiday Tips page. For other tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.
About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.