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Author: Bob Longworth
Dec 4, 2019 at 2:55pm

Taking Steps To Thwart Porch Pirates!

You hear their engines daily in your neighborhood, but especially during holiday time — those big delivery trucks carrying boxes. Consumers who once flocked to malls, downtown streets, strip centers, and big box stores now let their fingers do the walking on a phone or keyboard, resulting in goods being left near their front door. Porch pirates are poised not only to hear those trucks; they are also waiting to nab whatever is being placed on those porches.

The PennyHoarder’s Lisa Rowan, in her article about this phenomenon, says, “I arrived home after a long day at work to find two empty packages on my front stoop. The thermal sweatshirt that was supposed to be a Christmas gift for my dad? Gone. The pricy face cream I bought for myself? Gone. And the townhouse I was living in, which was on a residential street, didn’t have security cameras.”

She goes on to say that while there were plenty of places for the delivery truck driver to place packages out of sight, perhaps after an exhausting succession of weeks doing his or her job, it was no longer as much of a concern. Because of that experience, she has now taken steps to prevent theft of her precious orders, some of which are mentioned here.

Across the US, more than one-third of consumers have reported having a package stolen at least once, at an average cost of $109. To lower those incidences, first consider telling the service delivering your packages precisely where you want them placed — perhaps a secure area such as behind a gate or fence, or asking that they leave them with a neighbor who is on high alert to receive the parcels. Of course, making a request doesn’t guarantee that they’ll follow your instructions, but many delivery people care when dropping off your goods. In fact, it’s not that uncommon to know your own FedEx or UPS route driver by name. Rowan mentions, “If you happen to run into your regular local USPS, UPS, or FedEx carrier, you may be able to make requests in person. But keep in mind that your neighborhood delivery person may have the best intel on which bushes are ideal for concealing packages.”

As mentioned, neighbors are an excellent defense against theft, so be sure to get to know them, working together to thwart package theft. Even if you don’t have that option, however, you may be able to have your packages delivered to your employer (check with your employer first, since someone may have to sign for them). Of course, the disadvantage is having to schlep your boxes home.

Paying a bit more for the privilege of getting a delivery receipt, not the cheapest option, but it may be the most secure. Some businesses offer to receive packages for customers for a small fee. Rowan recalls a neighborhood dry cleaner being inordinately busy not only with people picking up and dropping off clothing but also because they could pick up your packages in the same trip.

Did you know that Amazon is here to help with delivery security? While it’s not quite as convenient as other drop-off locations, you can have your Amazon package delivered to a secure site by adding an “Amazon Locker” to your account. Your Amazon parcels will be delivered to the locker, and when it’s ready for pickup, you’ll receive an email with a six-digit code to pick up the package from the self-service kiosk. These lockers are positioned within stores, apartment buildings, and malls across the United States, offering you convenient times to pick up packages during evenings or on weekends. Prime members get this service for free.

Fortunately, technology helps to alert us when our packages arrive. You can follow your parcel from New York to Kansas to Arizona by clicking on the “track package” prompt in your email or on the delivery service web site. You’ll know precisely when it arrived or about to arrive, prompting you to either make a beeline to the front porch, call a neighbor to retrieve it, or to drive home during your lunch hour. To use this technology, you must be willing to not only receive emails but also approve “push notifications” on your phone. If you know you will be away from home and you know your package is arriving while you are gone, you can have your package rerouted to a shipping service center, like the UPS Store, so a delivery person doesn’t spend three days knocking on your door.

Another service few consumers know about regarding our own USPS is Informed Delivery, which sends you images of small pieces of mail that are on their way to your mailbox that day. And if you’re willing to make a more significant investment, home security systems can also let you monitor your front door, permitting your local police to use the footage to track down the porch pirates. Having these videos may help you make the case to your credit card company, which may reimburse you for lost or stolen packages, or it could help you get a replacement item from the retailer.

The worse thing you can do is to assume that your neighborhood is immune to porch pirates.