The ease of online purchasing is one of life’s simple joys. One of life’s most vexing aggravations is having that purchase stolen from your front porch before you can retrieve it. Here are several ways you can thwart the bad guys and package theft.
The scope of the package theft problem
Package thieves have come out of the woodwork as the number of online companies delivering right to your doorstep has grown. In 2017, 30 percent of consumers reported they had been victims of package theft. Some thieves are so brazen that they follow delivery trucks from a discrete distance and then swoop in as soon as the box has been delivered and the delivery driver is out of sight.
A quick and cost-free method of preventing package theft is to take advantage of what you already have. If a hedge partially conceals your porch, leave instructions for the delivery driver to leave your package hidden behind it. Outdoor furniture in the area where the delivery driver will drop off the package is an opportunity to tuck a parcel behind a table or chair. If your backyard is accessible and private (and there’s no dog to frighten the delivery driver), instruct the company to place packages on your back porch.
Sign up for text updates that will alert you when your package is delivered, then ask a neighbor to retrieve it until you come home. Or request that the delivery company get your signature before leaving a package. If you are willing to spend a few extra dollars, add insurance to your orders where possible. That way you’ll at least be compensated if the package is stolen.
Have packages delivered elsewhere
Consider having packages delivered to your workplace. Or set up a box at a commercial mail and package center to receive deliveries. Alternately, ask a neighbor you trust who is generally at home if you can have your packages sent to his house.
Recognizing the scope of the theft problem, Amazon has developed options in some metropolitan areas for more secure delivery of its packages. You can have your Amazon packages delivered to special lockers in stores such as Whole Foods. Recently Amazon went a step further, offering a service known as Amazon Key to Prime members. Participants purchase a keyless smart lock from Amazon; prices vary depending on the style of lock you choose but begin at around $250. The lock allows an Amazon delivery worker to open your door and set the package inside as a video camera records them. A camera allows you to watch the delivery if you want. Amazon Key also allows you to unlock your door from anywhere, assign passwords to friends and family so they can enter your home without a key, watch a video of those entering and leaving your home and provides several other services.
Turning the tables on the bad guys
You can place security video cameras on your front porch and record thieves in the act, but that can be small consolation when your eagerly awaited package is being carried away. If the culprit is wearing a hat, sunglasses or other disguising clothing, these cameras may not be much help in identifying a suspect.
Police in some areas are working with cooperative homeowners to conduct sting operations in order to capture package thieves. A dummy package with a tracking device inside is placed on a porch, allowing a nearby unmarked police car to track the stolen package and apprehend the thief.