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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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!)
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 andhome 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.
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