What to Do If You Have a Lost or Stolen Package

Sometimes packages get lost. But let's face it—most of the time if you're searching for a missing package it's because someone swiped it from your doorstep.

Almost 26 million packages were stolen in 2017.¹

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 itget reimbursedtrack down the thief—or scare them off before they do their dastardly deed.

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What to do if you're sure your package is 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.

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Pro Tip

Help stay on top of thefts and other 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.

Watch out for pandemic porch pirates

From Buffalo, New York to Eugene, Oregon, package theft is on the rise as the pandemic forces us to do more online shopping.

And pandemic porch pirates are getting creative. Some women in Kennewick, Washington dressed up as nurses and went on a package theft spree. Another package thief in Pennsylvania stole a loved one’s ashes off the porch.

We advise increased diligence right now.

  • Track every package.
  • Pick up packages after you get a delivery notice.
  • Make sure you’re getting motion alerts if you have a video doorbell or security camera.
  • Use delivery lockers if you can.

Keep up on coronavirus crime trends in our weekly roundup.

2. Contact the sender

Most of the time a missing package is something you ordered. In that case, you want to reach out out to the seller and let them know that your package hasn't been delivered.

I've had a lot of luck with upstanding companies that send out a replacement right away, no questions asked.

But not every company will send you a replacement item or refund your money. Be sure to hold on to any proof you have that can help support your claim.

  • If you got a notice of delivery, but the package isn't where they said it was delivered, take a snap of it to include in your report.
  • Keep your order confirmation number and any other details that helps the company track down your order.
  • Store delivery numbers and information so you can share that with the company and they can reach out to the carrier.

If the stolen package was sent from a friend or relative, let them know it hasn't been delivered. They can reach out to the seller or the carrier to help figure out what happened.

3. Contact Amazon about a stolen package

Start your claim

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.

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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.

4. Contact FedEx about a stolen package

Start your claim

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 just 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.

5. Contact UPS about a stolen package

Start your claim

UPS has different policies for lost or stolen packages depending on whether your package was shipped in the US or internationally.

Domestic Shipping: 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.

International Shipping: 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.

All Claims: 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.

6. Contact USPS about a stolen package

Start your claim

USPS lost packages can be more challenging than packages lost by other carriers because 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 ready
  • Be ready to show proof of insurance
  • Find proof of the value of the item, if possible

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.

What you can do to prevent package theft (or track down those porch pirates!)

1. Catch them on video

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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

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Mr. Beams Wireless Spotlight
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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.

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Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past eight. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime reports and spotting trends. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, NPR, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips.
  • John Silva

    USPS take to long to update the system when deliver a package. I have an missed item that was delivered by 7.00 PM, according to the tracking number. I received the notification email from Ebay at 9.25 PM that my package had been delivered. At this time I checked my package and there was nothing. Looking at my camera the mail man arrived at my door at 2.40 PM. Did he delivery the package? I don’t know but he showed up at 2.40 PM, because my camera recorded him.
    Also, I have found packages from my neighbors at my front door delivered wrong from USPS, UPS and Fedex.

  • Kote

    I live in an apartment building with a cyber doorman. Had a package delivered late due to delays which I missed due to being out of the country. When I returned I discovered that my package, and two other apartments’ that came with UPS that day was missing. Apparently the UPS driver never made it to the secure mail room and left it in the lobby where everyone traverses. The cyber doorman company saw the packages dropped off and they remained there until 2am the next day. However, my building owner refuses to look through the video footage past 18 hrs because it is too expensive. If I filed a police report, would the police request the video footage?

    • Celeste Tholen

      Hi Kote,

      So sorry to hear you’ve had such an issue with theft! If you have footage, so much the better. The police will likely ask to review it (if they haven’t already).

      Best of luck moving forward!

    • E. P.

      It requires a warrant and for a packge they are not going to court to get one, not ever!

  • dax

    Your article is INCORRECT and flagrant!!! Why should sellers refund or replace packages STOLEN when they are shown as DELIVERED by carrier????? Sounds just like running a SCAM! You need to re-write this article. It is the BUYERS responsibility to have cameras or a safe place for delivery. Tracking PROVES delivery.

    • vandwdesign

      Not always the case. Not everyone has that capability. I live in an apartment for disabled, and packages are left at the front door of the complex. So anyone could take our packages if we are not notified that they have been delivered. We don’t have the ability to have camera s installed, and the owner’s of the property will not do it upon request.

    • Uraq Lowique

      Tracking doesn’t prove anything. All it proves is that it was there at some point. The carrier could easily take the package and just say they delivered it.

  • Lynda Kalman

    This is my 4th problem with mail delivery beginning in July when I got no mail for 13 days, then I got 49 pieces. More recently no mail for 5 days, then 18 pieces; no mail for 3 days, then 17 pieces. Now the problem is with an eBay purchase. Tracking said delivery Dec 5rh by 8pm. I was literally in the lobby waiting for the driver. At 751pm it was still showing out for delivery. At 759pm that was changed to DELIVERED at 734pm but no one came and it was never delivered. Post Office has opened up a PACKAGE RESEARCH CASE.

    • Morena Bauer

      Sign up for Informed Delivery. It is free, even emails photo all USPS deliverables day prior.

      • Ashley E Sapinski

        that is a good suggestion, but not everyone’s address is eligible for it 🙁 I have tried for 4 years to sign up for informed delivery at my new address but it constantly says that my address is not eligible . However I had no problem signing up when I lived at my old address and I also don’t live in a rural area, I live in the chicago suburbs. The real kicker of all that , is that I live right behind the post office and can see it from my balcony !

  • Candice Baker

    USPS package sent with tracking. The package never made it to its destination. It was the second one I sent. It was supposed to be 2 day delivery and after a week they marked it delivered. I did not buy insurance. It was something that I made. After months have gone by with monthly emails from them saying they were still looking it expired. That is all that I received. I think they should at least refund the shipping and tracking cost. I took it directly to the post office both times. Idk… anyone have this experience

    • E. P.

      Yes they sent emails every other month ( automated) saying they were looking and on the 6 month they sent one saying the issue would be closed and they were never able to locate the package. It was from QVC a $75.00 purchase. I called QVC first and they said they would not refund me it was not their fault and they would not send another dress either. That was the 1st time, i’m now on the 3rd time ( in about 8 years) It said delivered but I was out there within 30 minutes of being notified it was delivered and nothing! Again they will send an email every other month until 6 months is up. Nobody looks for anything its just an automated email response to blow you off. You wait 2 hours to reach a rep that just enters the number in tracking and tells you what you already know. Everything is closed (covid 19) or I would have simply gone into the local store to buy what I wanted. I hate USPS!

  • Shahrzad Ahmadi


  • Logan Christopher

    My main question concerns package thieves and wherein lies the responsibility for replacement. If I order something online, but it gets stolen from my porch, I would assume that I am liable since it was delivered, yet stolen from my porch. Why would I hold a company liable for not delivering a product, when it was my low security porch that is responsible for the theft?
    What are your thoughts on this?
    For example, I ordered some computer RAM and it was delivered on my doormat. The USPS Courier scanned it and the scanner showed it was scanned on my porch. Then, I get home and the package is gone. I feel like I am the one who had a vulnerability in the chain and how would I hold a company 2000 miles away liable for this…?

    • E. P.

      Well actually most of the time it is not theft from your porch it is theft of teh postal worker!

  • Midori S.

    @usps couldn’t care less about our mail. I’m sure their personal mail won’t get lost. For me, every packages that are NOT from Amazon disappear mysteriously from the system either right before it gets delivered or it would say “could not be delivered” along the sudden because there was “no secure area” when they drop off other packages in one area for other residents or amazon packages. And it would say “notice left” but of course, there is no notice. I filed missing mail claim but I highly doubt that there is a department within usps which specifically specializes in finding lost mail & investigate.

  • Richard Snow

    Hi: Here is one for the record. I purchased a pricey item from Sarasota Florida on the 4th of Aug. I TRACKED my package from Sarasota Florida to Eugene Or. 97402 to the USPS main store. The package mysteriously disappears from the USPS Currier but yet he claims it was delivered to my address. This is transpired only a few days after Monday the 12th DELIVERY DAY. We have 6 cameras and he does show up about the same time as the delivered time stamp but 5 min later. The TRACKING NO. is on the package with the name and address so how can a responsible Currier that works for the FEDS be so irresponsible. I furthered my own investigation and looked up USPS track record for lost and/or stolen packages. USPS has the worst record and warrants an IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION as to what is really going on with our mail locally. Anyone who has ever taken a CIVIL SERVICE TEST knows about all the skills and requirements necessary to take and PASS this test in order to hold a position such as a Currier, for example. That means good memory skills. I don’t know, You”ll have to draw your own conclusion. Do you honestly believe my package got lost within a few blocks from my home,,,after traveling thousands of miles or rather stolen.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/YXNpZADpBWEZA3Yy1PNEw3SmtMTnhXTTBSWG52NmctWXhsb2ZAfUC0xTzhMM0RhY0ppRVB2dnpyTk9Oc09nbVo1ZAlNZASW0xeXV0NjltdDdXU2gwc3RtOU15MmswYXFYWHFkWGpZAV2l3b3Iz/ Kim Watkins

    The package I was expecting never showed up (from Amazon), so I went online to my Amazon account to check its status. It said it was delivered and a picture of it against the door was supplied. The problem is, the picture was not of my door. It was delivered to another tenant’s door and someone either stole it from their door front or they kept it. My address was on the label, so they could have brought it to my doorstep, or taken it to the leasing office, but they did not. I could try to match the floor pattern and walls surrounding the door that are visible in the picture, but I don’t know what I should do if I identify the door in the picture. Security and the police would probably say that the floor pattern can look alike in front of many doors, but there are only a few doors that have the door knob on the side shown in the picture with UN-interupted wall running past the door knob side of the door. Plus, if they are not friendly people and I call authorities, they know where I live, if they paid attention to label.

    • Sarah Ann Krause

      I feel for you, with so many things being sold as “online only”, we have to rely heavily on the post office, UPS, FedEx, and any new carrier who steps up to the plate. I used to think I could rely on UPS and the post office, but like you, things get delivered to the wrong address (I’ll never know why, the right address is on the package) UPS was supposed to bring me labels and pick up boxes to be returned to Amazon, refund held until their arrival. UPS left 2 of 3 label on the porch of a neighbor, around the corner and down the street? I’m lucky I have good neighbors, I got a text about the labels, and they offered to bring them over. I made a new friend, but the boxes weren’t getting be anywhere. Ever try calling UPS? Unless you have a tracking number for something in transit, their robotic phone system will end up having up on you. I wrote to them with complaiints, they emailed back a long unrelated reply. I finally took the boxes to a UPS store, and told Amazon they need a new carrier, one that will fulfill the promises available makes. They actually did start their own carrier, service, but no matter who is set to deliver to my house, I wait for a doorbell or a knock, but they do nothing, they just put the package on the steps and disappear… I’ve been in sec several disputes with the post office over missing mail, and it gets old. To they’ve got to improve their courier service and their customer service.

    • Morena Bauer

      Happened to us too. Not our door.
      They use a min. wage Last Leg 1099 delivery service.
      We called, A. was able track driver stopped at 4th house, we are 5th. Refunded us.
      Had they not, call your card issuer and open a case. Do a CHARGEBACK against them. Works wonders!

    • Uraq Lowique

      That’s the problem when it gets delivered to the wrong house/unit/apartment. You have a 50/50 chance of the person being honest. Otherwise, they think of it as something “free” and they keep it and you’re SOL.

  • Sarah Ann

    It’s been happening to much lately, last week there were two alerts from eBay saying usps attempted delivery, but was unable to for whatever reason, not their fault, once it was wrong address (which they located right after I called them) the other indicated a locked gate or road block (they mailbox was easy access for the rest of the mail by the same carrier) and that package arrived the next day. Yes, I get a lot of mail/packages, everything is online order only in my neighborhood, and both usps and ups are failing badly. UPS was supposed to pick up returns and bring labels, 2 of the 3 labels were left on the porch of a neighbor around the corner, she was kind enough to call me, my name and address were closely on the labels, I asked UPS if the driver had graduated kindergarten? The posto office, however, claimed to deliver a package last week, but I still don’t have it, and I’ve had a horrible conversation with a supervisor at the branch in question, who insists that it’s no fault of the postman, and that I should just take it as a loss? He yelled, he told me to get a refund from eBay, when I recited what the delivery report said he demanded to know how I knew, and said maybe the package was stolen, we got quite a bit of mail that day, I got 2 other packages, would someone reach inside the mailbox and gran one tiny thing? None of it adds up, and with 2 other messed up deliveries in the same week he’s got nerve to snap at me, I can’t take it as a loss, that’s “it never arrived, Oh well”? It war a phone charger, and we’ve searched everywhere, I don’t know who to turn to. I have or had a case open, who do I contact?

  • 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

    • Morena Bauer

      UPS Driver STOLE my $2,000 Engagement Ring.

  • 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…

  • 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.