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How To Stop Porch Pirates In Their Tracks

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Gift wrapped boxes on front porch
Several gift-wrapped packages have been delivered to this front porch. Are they safe from porch pirates?

A growing number of criminals are taking advantage of packages sitting in front of our homes after delivery. These “porch pirates” target unsuspecting victims and steal our packages without even knowing what’s inside.

Even though it’s a federal crime, criminals find porch pirating a quick, simple, and very tempting type of theft because they’re hoping to retrieve high-price items they can resell. And this type of crime is on the rise. According to the New York Times, In New York City, where more packages are delivered daily than anywhere else in the country, 90,000 packages a day go missing — a 20% increase over the last 4 years. In other urban areas, an average of 15% of packages have that same fate daily.

So how do you prevent porch pirates from stealing your stuff, and what are some effective deterrents? Let’s find out.

8 Ways To Protect Your Packages

Porch pirates are always on the lookout for an easy target. Protect your packages by using these tips for delivery security.

1. Reroute Delivery

When you know you won’t be home for a delivery, have your parcel delivered to your work or to a friend or relative who’s available to receive your package.

2. Request Delivery Confirmation

Some carriers will allow you to request a signature for delivery, so you’re sure your package gets delivered securely. You can also subscribe to delivery alerts, so you’ll know when the carrier delivers your package. Amazon even offers a service called Amazon Key that will place your package inside your home.

3. Outdoor Surveillance Equipment (Smart Video Doorbells)

Having an outdoor security camera will allow you to see and record what’s happening on your porch. Just having these cameras visible on your front porch may deter porch pirates from even approaching. Read our reviews of the best outdoor security cameras and doorbell cameras to see what might work best for you.

4. Keep Your Porch Visible

Porch pirates are less likely to approach your porch when it’s visible. Keep shrubbery clear and avoid decor that blocks visibility.

5. Use A Safe Delivery Product

There are several different products you can use to secure your deliveries until you can retrieve them. We review our top picks below.

6. Try Using Amazon Lockers

Amazon Lockers are a secure, self-serve, fully automated kiosk providing a convenient delivery solution for customers to pick up their Amazon packages. Lockers are available in a variety of sizes and offer a contactless experience.

7. Get A Mailbox Sensor

A mailbox sensor is essentially a motion detector that will detect when your mailbox is used. Products range from simple motion detectors to gadgets that include video camera recording. If you’re just getting started, we recommend this Mail Chime Mailbox Notification System.

How does it work? Simply mount the sensor on your mailbox door using double-sided tape (included) and plug the receiver into an electrical outlet anywhere in your home. When your mailbox is opened, the receiver will beep four times to tell you that you have mail. It will also light up a bright red LED bulb that you’ll be sure to see, in case you didn’t hear the beeps.

8. Buy A Porch Lockbox

Basically a secure lockbox for your parcels that can be accessed by mail carriers and yourself. There’s different versions on the market, from simple models using a key to more advanced models using a digital keypad, such as this Parcel Lockbox S100.

How does it work? The illuminating digital keypad makes it easy to program your personal code and gain access to your packages. Share this code with your desired carriers and have peace of mind knowing your packages will be kept safe in the LockBox. Once you’re home, punch in your personal code and watch the hydraulic struts smoothly pop open the lid to reveal your packages. If, for some reason, your code gets into the wrong hands, follow the step-by-step instructions to easily reset it.

Best Safe Delivery Products

There are several products on the market to help you protect your packages. We review different style options to help you decide what will work best for you.

Delivery Bag | Delivery Box | Delivery Lock

Best Bag: Package Guardian

Package Guardian

View on Amazon

Our top pick for delivery bags is the Package Guardian. This simple delivery bag protects your packages with steel reinforcement. There is a steel hook, frame, lock and 44 feet of steel cable sewn into the bag and straps. It hangs over your door with the hook. The carrier only has to put packages in and close the lock.

The bag has 3.2 cubic feet of space and can hold up to 14 shoe boxes and 200 pounds. It also has a large top opening for easy entry and is made with water-resistant nylon, so your packages stay clean and dry. The one downside is that if you receive multiple deliveries daily, the carrier will not be able to unlock the bag.

ProsCons
  • Weather-resistant
  • Carrier only has to lock after placement
  • Easy to use
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Doesn’t work for multiple daily deliveries

Price: Check Amazon for availability

Best Box: DoorBox Ultra-Premium Package Delivery Box

DoorBox

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The DoorBox Ultra-Premium Package Delivery Box is an easy-to-use weatherproof box that you can move in and out of your home on wheels, and you secure it to your home with an 8-foot steel cable. The cable connects to the box with a tamper-proof nut. It’s monitored by wires inside that sound an audible alarm when tampering occurs.

The box comes with a combination lock that doesn’t require a code to lock, only to open. However, you can list your code in your carrier account in case of multiple daily deliveries. The box is large and deep, 24″ height x 18″ width x 15″ deep, with space for lots of packages. Because of its size though, it may not be suitable for all porches and stoops.

ProsCons
  • Weather-resistant
  • Works with Amazon, UPS, USPS and FedEx accounts
  • Multiple daily delivery options
  • Easy to use
  • Secure to home with steel cable
  • Audible alarm
  • 1-year warranty
  • May be too large for smaller porches and stoops

Price: Check Amazon for availability

Best Lock: BoxLock Package Delivery Lock

BoxLock

View on Amazon

If you already have a box and are just looking for a lock, you will want to check out the BoxLock Package Delivery Lock. This lock connects to your WiFi and scans the package tracking number to determine if the lock should open.

The free app allows you to see all your package tracking on one screen, even packages from different carriers. The app also allows you to open your BoxLock via Bluetooth, share barcodes and view a full usage log. You can share barcodes via email and text. Furthermore, you can designate barcodes for onetime use, indefinitely or anything in between. You can also use the app to connect with carriers to update tracking numbers automatically.

The BoxLock only connects to 2.4 GHz WiFi, and you’ll also have to purchase a separate lockable box or bag.

ProsCons
  • Weather-resistant
  • Works with Amazon, UPS, USPS, and FedEx carriers
  • Easy to use
  • Free app available in iOS and Android
  • Shareable barcode
  • 1-year warranty
  • Lock only (must purchase a lockable bag or box separately)
  • Only connects to 2.4 GHz WiFi

Price: $129.00

Creative Solutions In Action

In this 3-minute video from Good Morning America, you can see the way some people get creative to combat porch pirates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the top questions we get from our readers regarding porch pirates. Don’t see yours? Ask below!

How Can I Report A Porch Pirate?

Your most direct route of reporting porch pirates is to contact the local authorities/police. You’ll want to provide them with as many details as possible, so consider preparing a description of the suspect, what was stolen, day and time, etc., assuming you have that information.

Can I Shoot A Porch Pirate?

Property self-defense laws vary by state, but in most cases, according to Lindley Law, they allow reasonable, but not deadly, use of force. And really, if we take a step back and consider the humanity of our choices – is taking someone’s life over stolen property something you could live with?

What To Do If My Package Was Stolen?

Before you jump onto your phone to notify the seller that you never received the package, you should ensure that the package is actually stolen. You do not want to be halfway through the refund process only to find that the package was not, in fact, stolen. Look thoroughly, ask your neighbors, and if you’ve confirmed the package is definitely missing and likely, stolen, we have a whole process you can follow to recover your parcel in our stolen packages guide.

Who Pays If Someone Steals My Package?

If you followed the steps in our guide mentioned above and have confirmed your package is stolen, contact the seller or retailer that sold you the item. Retailers have different policies and processes for handling stolen items, but in many cases, you’re entitled to a refund or a replacement.

Protect Your Packages And Your Home

If you think a thief would feel confident enough to walk up to your property and take something off of your porch, what would stop them from going one step further? Keeping porch pirates away and protecting your home can work hand in hand. When you get a home security system, you can protect your packages, your home, and your family.

Julie Fritz

Julie has been writing professionally since 2012. She is an active volunteer for a local arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. Everytown does comprehensive research on gun violence and makes recommendations on how we can all make our communities safer. Her involvement with this organization has given her invaluable information about how to keep our kids safe. She enjoys writing not only about gun safety, but from family-related content to informative articles about technology, events and healthcare. In her free time, you might find her hiking, trail running, biking or swimming. You might also find her in the kitchen where she loves to cook and bake.

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