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How To Prevent Package Theft: 10 Steps to Protect Your Deliveries

Nov 01, 2023|

Across the United States, package theft is a serious problem. Whether you’ve seen videos of porch pirates swooping down to snatch boxes off doorsteps or been a victim yourself, package theft is always annoying.

Here are some figures that’ll help you understand the scale of the problem:

  • The average value of a stolen package is currently $112.30.
  • Most Americans have either had a package stolen (67%), know someone who’s had a delivery stolen (34%), or know a neighbor who’s had a package stolen (19%), according to C+R Research
  • An estimated 260 million packages were stolen across America in 2022.

Judging by those figures, we can estimate that Americans lose at least $29 billion ($112 * 260 million) worth of packages to porch pirates yearly, whether they live in metropolitan areas or the suburbs. Based on historical trends from the previous five to seven years, that figure will only grow as e-commerce and home delivery become more prevalent.

This article will help you understand simple techniques to outsmart porch pirates, partner with delivery persons, and use surveillance technology to secure your packages.

Packages on a front porch protected by the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro.

1. Choose trusted delivery options

While metro areas have organized gangs that target homes systematically and even sometimes follow right behind delivery vans, a significant percentage of package thefts are crimes of opportunity where a passerby sees an unattended stack of boxes and wonders, “Why not?”

The only way to eliminate that attack is to choose trusted delivery options, like having your packages dropped off with friends, family, or neighbors who’ll be available without doubt, using delivery lockers (available via Amazon, UPS, and USPS), or requiring a signature for high-value orders.

  • Amazon Locker. During checkout, you can opt for delivery to a pickup locker from where you can collect your package securely within three days.
  • Signature services and delivery confirmation. Major delivery services like FedEx, UPS, US Postal Service, DHL, or Aramex can require their couriers to obtain your signature upon delivery to reduce the incidence of porch drop-offs and subsequent theft.
  • Family and friends. If your schedule requires you to be away from home while a delivery is being made, you can ship your packages to your neighbors or relatives and retrieve them at your convenience.

Let’s be neighbors.

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2. Install security cameras

As we mentioned earlier, most porch pirates are opportunists who happen upon unattended packages and assume they can get away with stealing them. That’s why security cameras and surveillance systems reduce porch piracy (and all other crime types) by an estimated 50%. A survey of 422 burglars by the University of North Carolina showed that 60% of burglars would choose another home to break into, while half said they’d leave immediately if an alarm went off during a burglary.

Using that data, we can see that while security cameras don’t eliminate porch piracy completely, they discourage it by increasing the risk package thieves have to take, generating video evidence cops can use to track them down faster, and overall reducing the probability of getting robbed.

Vivint’s Outdoor Camera Pro records activity around your house, plays warning alerts when lurkers hang around for too long, and specifies danger zones where alarms will go off once potential thieves enter them.

3. Utilize smart home technology

Smart home devices—including wireless security cameras, smart locks, and video doorbells—can serve as an additional layer of security for protecting your packages, especially when you’re away from home.

For instance, smart locks (like the Vivint Smart Door Lock) let you assign up to 30 unique access codes for family, friends, and even delivery persons and track usage so that you always know who enters your house when you’re away. As a result, you can generate one (or multiple) passcodes for delivery persons to enter and drop off your packages securely (say, in your foyer or living room).

Likewise, smart doorbell cameras (e.g., Vivint’s Doorbell Camera Pro) automatically record deliveries and lurkers. The Doorbell Camera Pro activates warning lights and a 90dB alarm that lets package thieves know they’re being recorded. It lets you see visitors’ faces and the packages they’re delivering and answer your door via a mobile app, whether you’re sitting on the couch or away on vacation.

4. Secure your front porch

Leaving packages unattended on your porch reduces the risk thieves have to take when trying to swipe packages. This makes your property easier to prey upon. Instead, you can use a combination of motion sensors, effective lighting, and outdoor lockboxes to secure your packages and reduce the chances of being robbed.

  • Motion sensors, protect your property from burglars and intruders and will sound an alarm and alert our 24/7 monitoring team if someone tries to break in.
  • The Vivint Spotlight Pro is an intelligent lighting system that detects, tracks, and lights up lurkers in the act—it detects people on your property after dark, follows them around with a spotlight, and plays jarring light patterns to scare them off.
  • Lockboxes. A lockbox (also known as a package box) serves as a secure holding bin where delivery persons can deposit your packages instead of dropping them on the porch. Depending on the brand you opt for, you can assign delivery people's unique access codes, or put delivery instructions on your shopping profile (Amazon) so drivers know where to drop your stuff.
Man picking his packages up off of his porch after receiving a delivery notification.

5. Establish clear delivery instructions

Most online shopping platforms and delivery companies let you add detailed delivery instructions for your courier, including specifically where you want your package to be dropped off and handling instructions.

For instance, you can ask delivery people to:

  • Unlock your front door (using a specific access code) and drop off packages inside your foyer
  • Keep deliveries in a package lockbox, along with an entry passcode
  • Deliver to a specific home and include details like your apartment number, your personal cell, and any landmarks if there’s a possibility they might mistake your residence
  • Ring the doorbell upon arrival, require a signature, or deliver to the front desk, if you live in an apartment
  • Text updates to a specified number
  • Request your signature and take a picture of the package in place before leaving
  • Drop off packages within your home security camera’s line of sight

6. Opt for real-time tracking

Delivery companies that offer real-time tracking and delivery alerts will attach a tracking number to your package so that you can get up-to-date notifications on where your package is, including which warehouses it’s been moved to, if it's in transit, or if it's in the package delivery drivers custody.

If you have the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro protecting your porch, you’ll get real-time notifications once a package is delivered to your doorstep to ensure your stuff is never left unattended.

7. Coordinate with trusted neighbors

Living in a security-conscious neighborhood can make all the difference in whether your packages are stolen or left alone: for example, a restricted security gate limits entry to verified estate members and visitors and keeps out porch pirates. When you combine that setup with security cameras, motion sensors, and smart doorbells (neighbors won’t steal packages if they’ll be caught on camera), package theft declines.

Even if you don’t live in a gated community, you can coordinate with your neighbors to have those who’ll be around when you’re away from home collect deliveries on your behalf to tackle porch pirates.

Also, neighborhood watch platforms serve as community hubs where neighbors can report package thefts, post security footage of known thieves, and coordinate to receive packages when some members are not around.

8. Consider alternative delivery locations

If you don’t want to take any chances with porch pirates, you can opt to have your packages delivered to pick-up stations, friends, or family who live in safer locations.

Alternatives like Amazon Key grant delivery drivers access to your front door or garage when they scan your package, and they’re instructed not to go further than five feet into your property. You also get real-time updates, and if you have smart cameras set up, you can watch couriers drop your stuff in real time.

9. Be prepared for the worst

If your packages still get stolen despite your best efforts, you need to know how to file a police report and contact your shipper for insurance claims and replacement. Here’s a step-by-step process that might help you:

  • Check with your neighbors to ensure your package wasn’t mistakenly delivered to the wrong address
  • Call 911 and file a report, including a detailed inventory of the contents of your missing package, to the best of your knowledge
  • Notify your seller and shipper and ask about package insurance coverage if you’re covered

10. Stay informed and updated

The best way to protect your packages is to stay informed on the evolving tactics of porch pirates, learn how to counter them, and use technology to your advantage in the fight against package thieves.

Packages on a front porch protected by the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro.

Package theft FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) to help you understand how prevalent package theft is, how to protect your deliveries, and what to do if you ever lose a package to porch pirates.

How common is package theft?

In 2022, one in seven Americans lost some of their packages to porch pirates. Overall, 67% of all Americans have had a package stolen, a third (34% )know someone who’s had a delivery stolen, while just under a fifth (19%) know a neighbor who’s had a package stolen.

Do cameras prevent package theft?

Absolutely. Security cameras reduce package theft (and other forms of property crime) by 50% and increase the risk package thieves and burglars have to incur.

What types of packages are most likely to be stolen?

Clothing is the package type that is most likely to be stolen, followed by books, toys/games, personal care products, and groceries. Branded packages (with visible brand logos), electronic goods, and food also make attractive targets.

What do I do if someone stole my package?

Check with your neighbors to make sure your delivery wasn’t shipped to the wrong address, then file a police report and notify your retailer and the shipper to discuss insurance claims and possible replacements.

We’ve published a detailed step-by-step guide on what to do if your package is stolen and how to prevent it from happening again.

Protect your deliveries with Vivint

Package theft is as financially costly as it is emotionally jarring, especially considering thieves will target you when you’re most vulnerable—including during the holiday season when your porch is stacked with presents you’ve spent a small fortune on. And they don’t discriminate either: MacBooks, Lego sets, expensive medication, clothes, food, home decor, you name it. Porch pirates will take anything and everything, no matter how much it costs.

For less than a single incidence of package theft may cost you, Vivint offers smart home solutions that can help you secure your deliveries, scare off porch pirates, and keep an eye on your porch 24/7. Our doorbell camera helps homeowners:

  • Track deliveries
  • Scare off lurkers and potential thieves
  • Talk to couriers even when you’re not at home
  • Record videos 24/7 for up to 10 days
  • See clearly at night with infrared night vision

Likewise, our outdoor security camera uses computer vision to monitor your property, identify and deter threats automatically, and zoom in with unmatched image clarity, even at night. Learn how Vivint’s smart home solutions can give you the peace of mind you deserve and secure your deliveries from porch pirates.

Find out how Vivint can make your home more comfortable and convenient. Call us at 855.822.1220 for a free consultation today.

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