There’s no joy like that of receiving a much-anticipated package. Arriving home, seeing it sitting on your doorstep, and bringing it inside to open and enjoy. Yet, the rise of package theft has stolen that joy from many.
Consider for a moment how package delivery has grown. Currently, there are over 263 million Americans who shop online. This means more packages being delivered. In fact, according to one report, 75% of Americans receive a package at least once a week from delivery services like Amazon, FedEx, USPS, and UPS.
At the same time, we see more and more incidents of package theft. According to one research study, in 2022 one in seven Americans experienced the theft of a package from their front door.
This not only leads to a financial loss from the stolen products but also leaves homeowners feeling insecure in their homes.
In this article, we’ll discuss this issue in-depth and give specific strategies to protect your packages and home from thieves. We’ll also talk about areas where this crime is most prevalent.
The pervasive problem of package theft
Porch pirates are thieves who steal packages from outside of people’s homes. They take advantage of unattended packages, brazenly swooping in and taking them before homeowners can bring the packages inside.
Most of us have heard about this over the past decade.
Sadly, this crime has only intensified in recent years, especially taking off during the pandemic as online shopping became a necessity. Since then, the problem has reached new heights, plaguing countless cities and neighborhoods.
To demonstrate the scale of this issue, consider that in 2021 alone, thieves stole an estimated 260 million packages.
Porch piracy is more than a simple inconvenience. Experts estimate that around $19.5 billion is lost every year due to package theft.
Many times, homeowners are the ones who pay the price—sometimes literally, if companies refuse to replace the stolen item. But more frequently, this crime robs homeowners of their peace of mind in their own homes, causing anxiety every time a package is delivered.
Retailers are another victim of this crime. Some companies cover the cost of stolen products, which impacts their bottom line. The impact goes even deeper than that, though. Many retailers have experienced a drop in customers—and revenue—because homeowners are wary of repeat thefts and don’t want to risk another loss by ordering online.
As prevalent as this crime is, there are specific areas throughout the U.S. where residents need to be particularly vigilant. Let’s consider which cities have the highest rate of porch piracy as well as what homeowners and renters can do to protect themselves.
The top 10 worst cities for package theft
The biggest problem in tracking package theft is the need for more reporting. Residents often simply contact the online retailer without filing a police report. Even when residents fill out a police report, package thefts often get lumped in with other general thefts.
Despite this, we can still look at city crime rates and anecdotal evidence to paint an accurate picture of package theft in urban areas.
Let’s look at the top metro areas where porch pirate activity is at its highest, including some of the incidents that have been reported in those areas.
In one recent package theft incident reported by a local Austin news station, the perpetrator stole several packages from a victim’s porch. As he took the last package, the victim confronted the thief, who then escalated the situation by threatening the victim with a knife.
Crime rate: 327.4 (higher than 90.2% of U.S. cities)
Los Angeles is the largest city on our list of cities with a growing package theft problem.
Los Angeles residents have noticed a particular rise in package thefts during the holiday season, especially in December.
Earlier this year, three suspects were caught on camera holding a U.S. mail carrier at gunpoint to steal his master key. With this key in hand, the thieves are able to ransack several area mailboxes and make away with piles of mail and packages.
Crime rate: 611.3 (higher than 98.3% of U.S. cities)
This midwestern city is home to its fair share of crime, including a rise in porch piracy.
In one neighborhood, residents noticed a man dressed in a UPS vest snatching packages from people’s porches. Residents were so fed up with this that they decided to do their own sting operation with a fake package and camera set up to catch the thief.
In another Milwaukee-based incident, a thief took package theft to a new level by threatening an Amazon delivery person and carjacking the entire delivery van. In this case, local law enforcement caught the thief shortly after.
In one violent incident, a porch pirate in the process of stealing a package pepper-sprayed both the mail carrier and homeowner.
To curb this growing problem in Portland, police have begun to use bait packages with GPS transmitters. When the package is on the move, they receive an alert and can follow the GPS tracker to its location. This tactic has led to several arrests.
Crime rate: 328.2 (higher than 90.3% of U.S. cities)
Sacramento is the fourth and final California city to earn a place on our list. Sacramento police have reported a rise in package thefts, particularly downtown.
One such porch pirate targeted a Sacramento neighborhood where he was caught on doorbell cameras eight times in one week. Because the residents caught the person on camera, they hope that law enforcement will be able to catch the thief.
To curb their package theft problem, neighborly officers in New Orleans have taken a proactive approach. When they see packages on a doorstep, they will attempt to knock on the door or ring the doorbell to alert the homeowner to the package. If no one is home, they’ll try to move the package out of sight to a safer location around the house.
Even with these efforts in place, New Orleans continues to grapple with this issue. In fact, a man was recently caught on surveillance video snatching multiple packages at two different locations.
The sad reality is that porch piracy isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As a homeowner, there are ways that you can protect your property, including your packages.
Consider these smart ways to increase your home’s security and thwart porch pirates.
Install a doorbell camera. Video doorbells, like this one from Vivint, are a great way to stay on top of your porch activity. Receive real-time notifications when anybody approaches your door, whether it’s a delivery person or a thief. This can help you grab those packages before someone else can.
Use outdoor security cameras. While a video doorbell does a lot for security, outdoor security cameras do a little more. Take the Vivint outdoor Camera Pro as an example. Not only does it capture footage, but it also offers motion sensor lights and plays a loud noise when it detects someone lurking in its field of vision.
Increase outdoor lighting. Dark areas are an invitation to porch thieves. Install more outdoor lighting to discourage porch thieves around the clock.
Require a signature for packages. If your delivery company offers this option, it can help you make sure that your package ends up in the right hands—yours.
Take advantage of package tracking. Many e-commerce platforms and delivery services will provide you tracking numbers that allow you to follow your package up to the very moment it’s delivered. They even give you estimated delivery windows and delivery notifications. This allows you to plan ahead and cut down on the time your package sits outside.
Use remote pickup options. Some companies offer secure locations where you can pick up your package. For example, with Amazon packages, you can opt for delivery at an Amazon locker. They’ll then send you a unique code to access it.
Install a lockbox. These secure boxes are a great alternative to leaving packages on your front steps. Simply include delivery instructions for your delivery person to open it and lock your package securely inside.
Ask a trusted neighbor. Is your package arriving at a time when you know you’ll be away? Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out and take it inside when it arrives.
If you experience package theft, you first need to file a police report with your local law enforcement. This will create a physical record of what happened.
Then, contact the seller. Some retailers will refund lost or stolen packages with little to no fuss.
Increase your front porch security with Vivint
Package thieves have become an unfortunate reality with online shopping and delivery—but with the strategies and tools we’ve discussed here, you decrease your chances of being a victim of porch piracy.
Looking for a way to increase your home’s security? Don’t want to worry about your package deliveries while you’re not home?
Vivint can help.
Learn more about Vivint’s security devices, including the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro and the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro. These devices are designed to send criminals running, with features like motion sensor lighting, smart deter technology, and real-time delivery alerts and notifications.
To see how Vivint can help protect your front porch, give us a call today at 855.822.1220 for a free consultation today.
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