This post was originally published on July 7, 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Does this resonate with you: eagerly awaiting the arrival of your online order, only to find an empty porch and a sinking feeling in your stomach? Porch pirates can strike swiftly without notice. Unfortunately, these types of thefts have become increasingly common. Package thefts totaled 119 million in 2023, which equates to $13.4 billion in lost goods.

The good news is these criminals can be stopped. Vector Security is here to arm you with the knowledge and tools you need to outsmart these thieves. From simple yet effective deterrents, to high-tech solutions, we've got you covered.

Understanding the Threat: What is a Porch Pirate?

Porch pirates are opportunistic thieves who prey on unattended packages left on doorsteps, porches, or inside mailboxes. They strike swiftly, often blending into the neighborhood unnoticed, and snatch parcels left out for delivery. They are allured by easy-to-grab goods, ranging from electronics and clothing to everyday essentials.

But what has led to the increase of porch pirates? It's a combination of factors, including the rise of online shopping, the anonymity of suburban neighborhoods, and the perceived low risk of getting caught. For some, it's a desperate act, while others see it as a thrill-seeking endeavor. Understanding the mindset of porch pirates is essential in devising effective strategies to thwart their efforts and safeguard our packages.

Don’t Leave Packages on Your Front Porch

When opting to have packages delivered to your home, consider requesting an alternative delivery location rather than leaving them on your front porch. The exposure of packages in open areas makes them vulnerable to theft, as they often attract attention from people passing by. To minimize this risk, strategically choose less conspicuous locations for package placement.

Many major retailers offer the option to leave delivery instructions or comments, allowing you to provide specific details to ensure packages are placed in the desired location. During daytime deliveries, explore safer alternatives such as behind secured gates or fences, the rear porch or patio area, inside the garage, or positioned discreetly behind porch or patio furniture.

Take it a step further by implementing smart locks equipped with temporary codes. These systems offer a convenient and secure solution for granting carriers temporary access to your property solely for the purpose of delivering packages. With temporary codes, you have full control over who enters your premises, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or theft.

Require a Signature for Deliveries

Most large delivery companies, such as FedEx, UPS, and Amazon, provide optional signature requirements to give shoppers peace of mind. While these signature requirements are often available as an optional service, in some cases, buyers may need to explicitly indicate their preference for a signature upon delivery.

Be mindful that opting for a signature requirement may incur additional shipping fees. Fees can vary depending on factors such as the specific policies of the shipping provider, the size and value of the package, and any other special considerations. Consider the potential of fees carefully, particularly if you anticipate a high volume of deliveries or if the added security of a signature requirement is deemed necessary for valuable or sensitive shipments.

Get a P.O. Box or Smart Locker

Packages don’t always have to be delivered to your home address. P.O. Boxes are safe and secure place to send packages, especially if you’re not going to be at your home during the day. You can get one at your local post office. Registration is quick and easy, and you can have peace of mind knowing professionals will safely handle your package.

Likewise, there are a growing number of companies that allow locker rentals for package deliveries. You can have your package sent to a specific location and pick it up at your convenience. Companies that provide locker rentals include:

Halt Packages While on Vacation or Away

A vacation or an extended time away from home can create concerns for any outstanding packages you need delivered. Fortunately, many delivery services offer convenient options to halt package deliveries temporarily, providing peace of mind to travelers. By utilizing these services, you can ensure that your packages are held securely until your return, minimizing the risk of theft or damage while you're away.

To halt package deliveries during your absence, contact your preferred delivery service provider, such as FedEx, UPS, or the postal service, in advance of your departure date. If you are staying at a particular location for an extended time, you can also contact these providers via phone or online to update the shipping information, so the items are sent to your new location.

Use a Home Security System to Keep Your Home and Packages Protected

home security system is effective at detecting porch pirates and ensuring you receive prompt notification of suspicious activity outside your door through an app on your phone. This empowers you to take swift action, whether it's contacting law enforcement, warning members who could be inside the home, or remotely addressing the situation via a triggered alarm, voice communication, etc.

Additionally, you can use a video doorbell camera to keep a watchful eye on all of your deliverables from afar. These devices offer real-time visual monitoring of your property's entry points, particularly the front door where packages are typically delivered. You gain the ability to visually confirm the identity of anyone approaching your doorstep, including delivery personnel and potential porch pirates.

Having a comprehensive security system is key to keeping your home, family members, and valuables secure. Contact Vector Security today to learn more about how you can protect package deliveries from thieves with our smart home solutions.