A Guide to Recovering Your Lost or Stolen Packages

Written by | Updated November 22, 2016

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:


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.


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.


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.


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

  • 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?

  • Fun Please

    USPS blows cookies

  • 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 Bagger

      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.

  • 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.

  • 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.