A Guide to Recovering Your Lost or Stolen Packages

Nov 28, 2018 |
delivered package sitting outside house

The new shoes you ordered are supposed to be on your doorstep, but they’re not. Two scenarios flash through your mind: the carrier lost your package, or it was stolen. Either scenario is annoying and alarming—but you don’t have to be helpless when porch pirates strike. Here are some steps you can take to get to the bottom of it, get reimbursed, track down the thief—or scare them off before they do their dastardly deed.

What to Do If You’re Sure Your Packages Are Gone

1. File a Police Report

If you seriously suspect something has been stolen from your stoop, call the police. Without witnesses, they won’t be able to do much, but they will take note of the incident. If others in your neighborhood report the same problems, then they’ll be more likely to investigate and find the crooks who did it. Filing a police report can also be useful if you try to make an insurance claim on the missing delivery.

Pro Tip

Help stay on top of thefts and other shady activities in your neighborhood with the Ring Neighbors app. Whether you have the Ring Alarm security system or not, the app can still alert you to incidents (like package theft) in your neighborhood. But it relies on self-reports, so be sure to do your part to help keep your neighbors in the know.

2. Contact Your Carrier

Every carrier has a different protocol to handle lost and stolen packages. If yours is missing, here’s what you can do:

UPS

Report a missing package with UPS
ups logo

UPS is pretty great with refund policies for missing packages. If you order something domestically and it is missing, you can’t file a missing package claim until 24 hours after it was supposed to be delivered. Claims for internationally purchased products are trickier. For these, you won’t be able to file a claim, and it could be difficult to get a refund or replacement. Once you file a missing package claim, UPS will investigate. It’s really difficult to find out if a package was lost or stolen. Regardless, all missing packages—for whatever reason—are handled this way. If you ordered the product, you should get in contact with the seller, since UPS will issue the refund to them.

FedEx

Start your claim with FedEx
fedex logo

FedEx makes it easy to file lost package claims. If you ordered or shipped something from the US through FedEx, you can file a lost package claim online.

FedEx is also pretty speedy. It normally takes five to seven business days to resolve a claim. As the sender, recipient, or third-party, you’ll have 60 calendar days to file a claim for damaged or missing contents and up to nine months to file lost item reports. Just make sure you keep any and all packaging or evidence because FedEx might ask to see it.

Amazon

Start your claim with USPS
usps logo

USPS lost packages can be more challenging than packages lost by other carriers. It’s trickier to file a claim with USPS. While its protocol for refunding damaged packages is clear, its process for stolen mail is not. If your package was shipped and delivered by USPS, but it’s missing, you’ll need to file a claim regardless. Have the tracking number, proof of insurance, and proof of value handy. If your package was stolen and there’s evidence, take photos and submit those too. If your USPS lost package was insured, you should be able to get a refund directly from USPS. If your USPS package was stolen, you should be able to go through the seller to receive a replacement or refund.

Pro Tip

If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, you might want to look into Amazon Lockers. These are secure kiosks where you can send your Amazon packages and pick them up at your convenience. Best of all—using an Amazon Locker is completely free.

USPS

Start your claim with Amazon
amazon logo

Amazon is known for its fast Prime shipping and basically no-questions-asked philosophy. If their tracking shows a package was delivered, but you can’t find it, you should be able to get a refund pretty quickly and easily. After 36 hours have passed since the expected delivery date, you should contact Amazon. If packages are late, they’ll usually credit your account for the inconvenience. The company handles all the details with third-party sellers (if not their own services), so you won’t need to get involved.

What You Can Do to Prevent Package Theft (or Track Down Those Porch Pirates!)

1. Catch Them on Video

SafeWise Recommends
ring video doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell

  • 2-way audio
  • Motion sensor
  • Cloud recording

If you have a doorbell camera or an outdoor security camera, use it to your benefit. If an expected package is nowhere to be found, watch the footage to see if the carrier dropped off the package or if someone walked away with it. If you spot theft, report it to your local police department. Or, if you can prove no one ever showed up at your door, the carrier (if you’re the shipper) or shipper (if you’re the recipient) will be forced to refund you.

You can shop for a number of smart doorbells and home security cameras these days. Some send instant alerts through apps, and others simply record footage. Arm yourself with proof of delivery or theft by installing one on your porch.

2. Shine a Light on the Situation

SafeWise Recommends
mr beams wireless spotlight

Mr. Beams Wireless Spotlight

  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Durable

Porch pirates like to skulk in the shadows. Add a motion-activated light to your porch to send thieves scurrying away. You can even find motion light and security camera combos. That way you have a blinding deterrent and a way to catch the culprits in action.

Tell Us about Your Lost or Stolen Package Experience

Falling victim to theft is never fun—neither is dealing with faulty carriers. While it does happen, we hope this guide will help you take preventative measures, get your money back, or get a replacement quickly. If you have any advice about how you recovered something lost or stolen, tell us about it below! It’s always helpful to hear first-hand accounts, so all stories are appreciated.

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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  • Aniket

    I returned a FedEx Package through USPS dropbox and now its missing.
    USPS says there are many incidence like this and there are idiots like me who does it many time but USPS return these packages to FedEx.
    But in my case FedEx haven’t received this package and USPS says they have handed it to FedEx.
    Thus, I am unable to track the package and it is still missing.
    What can be done in this case?

    • http://www.reviews.org Scott T.

      This is the best answer I could find (from Quora): https://qr.ae/TUn8E5.

  • LynnieM

    This is the ninth time in ONE YEAR that the USPS has ‘lost’ or ‘misplaced’ my family’s mail or packages. NINE FREAKING times. My granddaughters ice skates for Christmas showed up 5 weeks later…my grandson’s toy train eventually came back to me 8 weeks later with “postage due” on the package that I mailed from the Kiosk in my local PO. Funny huh? What is going on there???? Now I have a proposal for a manuscript sent to a California publisher due to be delivered plenty of time before the deadline of Feb. 12, missing since Feb 7. Last tracking update on Feb 8. No further info…nada, nothing. “Your package will take longer than expected but it is still on it’s way.” Yeah. Ok. No more updates since. Filed a ‘report.’ Even heard from a really nice lady in California who didn’t seem at all confident that this Priority first class USPS envelope will ever be found. wtf???? I lost the proposal…they didn’t buy that the dog ate my homework…

  • Deanna Fisher

    Greetings All! I’m searching for some help and I’m hopeful someone may have some suggestions for me. Recently I won two auctions on a site of which I’ve been working with for over 8 years. Never a problem. However, the last two auctions I won were from the same seller on the same day and both items (Coach hand-bags) were shipped together via UPS. The seller is very reputable and I have no concerns where she is concerned. Anyway, the package was shipped via UPS and received at my local post office on 2/6/19. An employee signed for it. I have a PO BOX there. So, when someone sends me a package I instruct them to use the street address of the post office and then immediately underneath that to put my PO BOX number. This has worked consistently for years and never an issue. This particular package though did not have my PO BOX number, only the street address of the post office. As I said, the package was accepted and signed for by a USPS employee on the 6th of February. For the following week I would check my PO BOX every evening to see if they placed my package in there. I figured that they all know me very well at the post office and know that I have a business reselling cosmetics and higher end hand-bags as I receive packages almost daily. After a week of checking and nothing changing on the UPS tracking site I made a daytime visit to the post office and spoke to a man that works there. I explained everything and showed him proof of delivery. He did a preliminary search but told me that the woman who signed for my package was out that day and that they would try to contact her and get back to me as to the whereabouts of the package. I never heard back after waiting another 3 days. I contacted them again via phone this past Friday 2/15/19 and at first I was speaking to the supervisor and we were disconnected, however she knew what I was talking about. I called them right back and I believe I spoke to the employee that actually signed for the package. She was somewhat rude and very short with me. I asked her what happened and she told me that the package was returned to sender. I asked her when was that done and she said she didn’t know. I’m not a confrontational person and didn’t want the conversation to escalate so I ended the call. I then contacted UPS and told them the entire story and after they did some checking they told me that the package was not returned to sender. That when a package is being returned, the package is scanned by the driver or by the person working at a UPS facility and then details are entered into the tracking info. This was never done. They said that as far as they can tell that the package is still at USPS. Who is liable here? And who do I contact to file a claim? UPS or USPS? I personally believe that my package went home with the postal worker. Thanks for your help.

  • Artan Shabani

    I lost my phone(iPhone XS Max 256GB) right in door step, UPS says they left the package at the door, 6:26 pm Friday 3/15/19, I kept refreshing the page every 5-10 mins I refreshed the page at 6:31pm and showed that the box was left at the door, I ran down stairs and there was no box left no sign of UPS, I was waiting in front of the porch almost all day afternoon, just went upstairs for a bit to skype to mom and brother and this happened to me, I never been without a phone for so long, I can’t contact anyone, I keep using my laptop to contact ppl via e-mail and skype mostly,this is insane why UPS would just leave a package worth $1,400 at the door without knocking on the door or anything, this is insane, I heard that UPS leaves packages only in Westchester County NY, but they don’t leave packages at the door in NYC, I really wish they wouldn’t leave packages at the door here either, I wouldn’t mind going to a ups location to pick up my phone uggggggggg, grrrrrrr I’m so mad, now this investigation going on, I just want my phone that’s all, and I hope that person who got that phone from me will not get another breath in his/her life, people who wants just to steal and not work for their things do not belong to the society