This post was originally published on November 7, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
As online ordering and delivery services are on the rise, especially in light of Covid-19, so too are the number of packages being delivered to our homes. This presents a growing opportunity for theft, especially if packages and deliveries are left unattended for long periods of time.
Below are tips to protect your package from being taken from your doorstep, and next steps if porch pirates steal your shipment.
How to Prevent Package Theft
When placing your order, specify delivery instructions to prevent your package from being left alone.
- Note expected delivery dates and times for your shipment when ordering so that you can plan accordingly to be home. If possible, pre-select a delivery time when you know you'll be available.
- If you won't be available at your normal delivery address when the shipment is expected, consider other delivery options. For example, you can send your package to a friend, your workplace, a parcel locker, or a UPS or USPS access point for safe keeping until you can bring it home. Generally speaking, parcel lockers provide easy and secure package pickup.
- Require a signature for an item to be delivered. This way you can ensure your package won’t be left alone.
- Add a comment for special delivery instructions, such as “please leave the package behind the planter," or "place the parcel in the garage." If a safe spot for delivery is not available, consider having the shipment held for pickup at a time that is convenient for you.
- For high-value purchases, add insurance to the delivery to protect yourself in the event of theft or the item going missing.
- Save tracking numbers and details for future reference.
If you receive shipments on a regular basis, it's also smart to install a security camera with motion detectors, or a video doorbell camera, so you can proactively monitor for package theft.
How to Keep Track of Deliveries
Use tracking numbers and smart home security monitoring to further protect your packages from porch pirates.
- Many delivery companies, like Amazon and FedEx, will notify you when your package is at your door. Promptly retrieve the item or ask a neighbor to grab your package for you. Avoid letting a shipment sit outside your home for extended periods of time.
- Utilize smart locks to unlock your home remotely to allow a trusted individual to put the package in your house. You can monitor them via your security camera, and then lock the doors behind them. This will keep your house secure and your packages safe inside.
- Video doorbell cameras are a great tool for both watching and communicating with couriers. With them, you can see who delivered your package and when it was delivered. You can also ask the driver through the speaker system if they can place the shipment in a specific location. (Pro tip: Ensure motion-activated sensors and alerts are turned on during expected delivery days, just in case the delivery person knocks.)
- Monitor packages with video surveillance if you can’t get the package off your doorstep right away. A security camera may deter thieves. It can also give you peace of mind knowing you can keep an eye on your new delivery and capture evidence should package thieves strike.
How to Verify Whether Your Package Was Stolen
If you suspect your shipment was stolen, follow these steps to confirm:
- First, verify the package was indeed delivered. Check your purchase confirmation and tracking information. Using the tracking number provided, you can verify the shipment's status and package delivery. In some cases, delivery drivers will even share a photo of where the item was left on your doorstep.
- If the package was delivered, but you are unable to locate it, check your security camera footage to see if someone took the item. In some cases, a friendly neighbor will grab your package for safe keeping on your behalf if they know you aren't home. Or, you may be able to see the theft in action.
Theft and Porch Pirates: What To Do If Your Package Is Stolen
If your preventive measures don’t stop a determined thief and your shipment is indeed missing, report the theft to local police, and contact the seller or retailer. While policies vary, most sellers' customer service departments will offer a replacement or refund for stolen items. Others will try to shift responsibility to the shipping company.
If this happens, you can contact the shipping company to begin the claims process. USPS, UPS, FedEx and DHL all have forms online for easy claims submission. Note, however, that many are not legally responsible for the package if it was left at the correct delivery address. Once the driver confirms delivery, the package itself is often the recipient’s responsibility.
If none of the above results in resolution, you might be able get a refund or replacement via your homeowners insurance or the purchase protection feature on your credit card.
Rely on Home Security to Keep Your Packages Safe
A home security system, complete with an outdoor security camera and professional monitoring, can ensure you are promptly notified of suspicious activity outside you door.