How to Prevent Package Theft This Holiday Season

Evelyn Long

Oct 27, 2021

how to prevent package theft

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Online shopping isn’t a new trend, but its growth was dramatic throughout 2020 and 2021. In 2020, e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion USD worldwide, growing more than 25% over the year before. Of course, with delivery drivers and customers facing higher numbers of shipments than before, keeping track of all of them becomes a concern. It’s time to learn how to prevent package theft — or at least reduce its likelihood.

Approaching holidays mean ordered gifts and those sent from family and friends will soon be hitting your doorstep. Keep them safe with the following tips, meant to help with both small security tips and larger investments in home delivery security.

Should You Worry About Porch Pirates?

Naturally, with a rise in online shopping comes a correlating rise in package theft. Are you overreacting by taking steps to prevent package theft? The answer is probably no. After all, 2020 data from C+R Research shows 43% of surveyed consumers experienced theft at least once within that year. Within that number, over sixty percent claim to have had packages stolen more than once.

You can assess your own risk by thinking about your and your neighbors’ past experiences with deliveries. It might be time to take preventative action if theft is a common occurrence in your neighborhood. Even if you are only worried about porch pirates, there are some less expensive measures you can take to reduce risk.

Let’s start with the basics.

Basic Security Tips to Prevent Package Theft

Some of these tips might seem obvious, so feel free to skip down to the other solutions. However, if you haven’t tried some of these before, they’re simple ways to help guarantee packages make it from your doorstep to your hands.

Schedule Deliveries on Your Time

The best way to prevent package theft is to bring the parcel inside immediately. That’s easier said than done for many busy consumers, but a little planning can make this a stronger possibility. Many shipping services offer some opportunity to plan out deliveries for when you’ll be home:

  • USPS Informed Delivery: Signing up for USPS’ free Informed Delivery®service allows residents to receive alerts for incoming packages, update delivery indstructions and set up redelivery alternatives if needed. Once a verified user, you’ll have much more awareness of USPS deliveries and more flexibility to manage them on your time.
  • Fedex Delivery Manager: Fedex offers a similar service with free features including package redirects to participating locations, hold options and tracking. Signing up before you need it can help you manage incoming FedEx packages.
  • UPS My Choice®: Another shipment management tool from a major shipping company, My Choice® allows you to customize your preferences and track and reroute packages if needed.

Sign up for these before you need them, and you’ll have a greater level of visibility and control over your deliveries from these companies. While Amazon is a bit different, Prime users also have the opportunity to alter their delivery timeframes (and can get digital rewards for extending them out, too).

Designate a Safe Delivery Spot

With the ability to give specific delivery instructions, think about what you’ll ask drivers to do. If you have an accessible side or back door, those could be potential options that are not in the eyeline of porch pirates. Smaller packages can often be lodged between the front door and the screen door, making for another subtle solution.

Some manufacturers sell lockboxes, which operate on codes you share with the delivery driver. These might be great solutions if you are able to share instructions with the most common shipping companies. However, some reviewers have had poor luck getting busy and overworked delivery people to use a complicated system. Consider how amenable drivers are to your typical instructions before investing hundreds of dollars into a lockbox.

Install a Home Security System

security cameras can prevent package theft this holiday season

Now, we get into the bigger investments. Fortunately, home security systems with camera functionality are fairly affordable for most households these days. Smart tech retailers like Ring amd Nest and more traditional companies like ADT all offer video services for your front door. It’s just a matter of the functionality you like and how much you’re willing to spend.

The reason this works for many households is that a visible camera can be a great deterrent for opportunistic porch pirates. This is especially true in broad daylight, when many of your deliveries might be made. The risk of being filmed and identified is just not worth the gamble of swiping a package — after all, what if it’s just your monthly supply of dog food?

That’s not to say security cameras always do the trick. Thieves know that stolen packages aren’t always worth a report or police investigation, and despite a projected 22 million households installing these systems, thefts are still fairly common. But it’s likely worth the effort for your peace of mind and the reduced risk.

Security Improvements From Major Distributors

amazon pickup and returns storefront

“Okay,” you might be thinking, “I do my best to plan deliveries and I have a camera trained on my doorstep. Shouldn’t it be up to these delivery companies to make an effort, too?” It’s a fair point and one that has triggered new service options and policy changes from giants like Amazon. They might not be responsible for porch pirates, but unhappy customers aren’t good for business.

Amazon rolled out Amazon Key in 2020 in an attempt to offer more secure delivery options for homeowners. This service syncs up with smart garage door openers — myQ apps — to grant delivery people access to garages. The worker simply scans the package, no code required, and the garage opens and shuts to accommodate the delivery. Many modern garage door openers have WiFi capabilities, so homeowners can verify whether this is a possibility with their current door.

UPS is similarly looking to provide more secure deliveries. UPS has been developing a program with Latch smart devices to allow for in-building deliveries in various cities. This mostly applies to apartment dwellers, who have the extra challenge of receiving packages in a dense urban setting. This program gives UPS drivers access to Latch-enabled residential buildings so they can place packages in a designated mailroom.

Whether these improvements are available for you depends on your location and your smart devices. However, it’s likely that these programs will continue to expand as consumers express concern about instances of delivery theft.

No Luck? Alternatives to Home Delivery

Not sure how to prevent package theft when you’re juggling lots of gift deliveries, holiday travel and ever-more-uncertain shipping delays? The easiest solution for you might be to just not receive packages at your house.

Most shipping companies will offer an option to send deliveries to a designated pickup location. FedEx and UPS have store locations and participating storefronts where holds may be possible. Amazon has installed pickup lockers across the country, often in convenient locations like grocery stores or pharmacies. And finally, there’s always the DIY option to send a package to your workplace or a friend who is available to receive it.

It might feel like giving up, but what really matters is that your shipments make it home.

How to Prevent Package Theft This Winter

When it comes down to it, porch pirates are largely opportunists. The best prevention is keeping packages out of sight and working with shipping services to be as flexible as possible. You can also invest in security cameras, lockboxes or linked smart devices if you’re plagued by delivery theft each year.

A little preparation can take this added stress out of your holiday plans this year.

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