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Tackling Porch Pirates: High-Risk Areas and Prevention Strategies

Key takeaways

  • Vermont has the most porch piracy of any state and the most prevention strategies.
  • St. Louis has the most porch piracy among the 100 most populated U.S. cities.
  • Residents in Alaska conducted the most searches for “bait packages” per 100 residents.
  • DHL has the most negative comments on public forums, with the words “late,” “lost,” “missing,” or “stolen” used roughly 140 times per 1,000 posts.
Porch pirate snatching a package.
 

The rise of the porch pirate

There’s nothing better than the excitement of having a product you ordered online delivered right to your door. But there’s nothing worse than realizing your package was stolen by porch pirates before you could retrieve it.

Over the past year alone, searches like “porch pirates caught” have surged 1,588%, demonstrating just how big an issue delivery theft has become. To learn more about this front porch crime, we used Google search volume data to construct a comprehensive study on where porch piracy is the most prevalent and which cities and companies are doing the most to stop it.

The porch pirate index (PPI)

To analyze the prevalence of porch piracy, we invented a rating system called the porch pirate index, or PPI for short. We consolidated search volume data of the phrases “package stolen,” “package lost,” and “package theft” per 100,000 residents in each U.S. state and the country’s 100 most populated cities. Using this data, we assigned each area a PPI score from zero to 100, with zero being the least porch piracy and 100 being the most.

Explore our PPI ratings using the interactive map below and find out how your area scored.

Happily, some states had very few package theft issues. For example, Massachusetts scored a meager 15.7 on the PPI, the lowest in the country. Not too far behind, Florida and Ohio had PPIs of 16.5, and Tennessee scored 16.6. Vermont, on the other hand, had a PPI of 100, proving the New England state is a popular spot for porch pirates.

However, living in a relatively porch pirate-free state doesn’t always guarantee package theft immunity, as some low-PPI states had metropolitan hot spots. For example, Florida had a state PPI of just 16.5, but Orlando was a porch pirate haven with a PPI of 84. Similarly, low-scoring Massachusetts was home to Boston, a hot spot with a PPI of 63.

Let’s take a quick look at the U.S. cities with the most and fewest porch pirate-related searches.

Top 5 U.S. cities making the most porch pirate-related searches per 100,000 residents

Among the 100 most populous cities

  1. St. Louis, MO (118 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 100
  2. Jersey City, NJ (115 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 97.7
  3. Madison, WI (111 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 94.1
  4. Pittsburgh, PA (104 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 88.7
  5. Fremont, CA (100 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 84.9
Bottom 5 U.S. cities making the fewest porch pirate-related searches per 100,000 residents

Among the 100 most populous cities

  1. Houston, TX (19 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 16.4
  2. Phoenix, AZ (21 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 17.4
  3. Chesapeake, VA (24 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 20
  4. San Antonio, TX (24 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 20.6
  5. Corpus Christi, TX (25 searches per 100,000 residents)
    PPI Score: 21.3

Time of year also played a role in porch pirate search activity, as searches surged by 76% in December. This finding suggests that porch pirates are more active during the holidays when online shopping volume tends to skyrocket.

But is porch piracy only a U.S. issue? We analyzed global porch pirate-related search volume to discover the prevalence of porch piracy worldwide and discovered that Americans are not the only ones suffering from package pinching.

Top 5 countries making porch pirate-related searches per 100,000 residents

Among countries with a population over 250,000

  1. Iceland
  2. Luxembourg
  3. Montenegro
  4. United States
  5. Malta

Iceland had the most porch pirate search activity, followed by Luxembourg. The U.S. placed fourth, and neighboring Canada took seventh place. Across the pond, the United Kingdom landed at No. 27, while the land Down Under was slightly less pirate-plagued at No. 20.

Where’s my package?

Can using a certain shipping courier help protect your packages from theft? Let’s see how five major delivery services stack up in terms of online sentiment.

Information about how customers feel about popular couriers.
 

While USPS may not be as popular as rivals like Amazon or UPS, it may be time to give your friendly neighborhood mailperson a little more credit. The USPS scored top marks in every delivery category but timeliness.

Amazon kept its customers happy with prompt and efficient service, but customers reported a suspiciously high number of its packages as “missing.” This might indicate a preference among porch pirates for Amazon packages.

At the bottom of the rankings, DHL had the lowest number of positive reviews and the highest number of complaints. There were 140 mentions of “late,” “lost,” “missing,” or “stolen” for every 1,000 DHL-related public forum posts. DHl may want to consider implementing a few anti-theft procedures for their deliveries.

Protecting against porch piracy

The good news is that even though package theft may be on the rise, so are preventive measures designed to stop it.

To find out which Americans are protecting against theft the best, we created a scoring system called the porch pirate prevention index (or PPP). Using search data for clever tactics like “porch camera,” “bait package,” and “package tracking technology,” we assigned each state and the 100 most populated cities a score, with 100 being the best.

Use the interactive map below to see how your area scored.

While Vermont may have proven to be the state where porch pirates were most prevalent, that doesn’t mean its citizens aren’t up to facing the problem head-on. Vermont also had the highest PPP score at 100, indicating that its residents are aware of the problem and fighting back. Buffalo, NY, which scored a 74 in terms of porch piracy issues, also appears to be nipping the problem in the bud with a prevention score of 100.

Based on search volume per 100,000 residents, we also found that Alaska was the state most interested in laying stealthy bait package traps, followed by South Dakota, Oregon, Arkansas, and Rhode Island. This finding shows how porch piracy victims are turning to unique methods to prevent further package theft, but we have some easier ideas for you that don’t involve glitter bombs.

Protecting your packages against porch piracy

Many great products are on the market today to help you keep your packages safe. One of the top options is a smart doorbell camera. It can watch over the packages left by your door, deterring thieves and catching all the action should a theft occur.

As security experts, we also have several more great tips and tricks you can use to stop porch pirates in their tracks. Some of our favorites include:

  • Have your packages delivered to your office rather than your home.
  • Opt for an Amazon locker delivery.
  • Require a signature for high-value packages.
  • Install a smart lock so delivery drivers can place items inside your home, and you can relock your door remotely when they leave.
  • Opt for a smart garage door opener that allows you to open and close your garage door remotely so that deliveries can be left inside.
  • Choose in-store pick-up so you can pick up your package directly from the store on your way home.

Protecting your porch

Porch pirates may be getting more brazen, but you can do plenty of things to fight back! With a little extra caution and ingenuity, there’s no reason not to indulge in the modern joys of online shopping. Even the mere presence of a security camera or smart doorbell can often be enough to make porch pirates think twice.

Let’s be neighbors.

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Methodology

For this study, we leveraged Google Trends search volume data to calculate porch piracy indexes. For each state and city in this study, we calculated a porch pirate prevalence index, with 100 being the most prevalent, by using the search volume of “package stolen,” “package lost,” and “package theft” per 100,000 residents. Similarly, we calculated a porch pirate prevention index, with 100 being the most preventative, by using the search volume of “porch camera,” “bait package,” “porch pirates cost,” and “package tracking technology” per 100,000 residents in each city and state. Additionally, we scraped the subreddits of the most popular shipping couriers to gather sentiments and porch piracy-related term frequency.

Fair use statement

Feel free to use any of the information you learned here for non-commercial purposes only! Just make sure to include a link back to his page when doing so.

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