Over the past five years, we’ve talked to thousands of Americans about their specific experience with package theft. We asked them how much they worry about it and what they do to keep porch pirates at bay. We’re proud to join with the home security experts of Vivint Smart Home in presenting our fifth-annual Package Theft in America report.
Worst Metro Cities for Package Theft for 2022
Around 260 million packages disappeared from porches across America over the last 12 months according to results from our latest survey of 1,000 Americans—that’s 50 million more packages that were swiped compared to last year’s results.
Our data shows no signs of online shopping slowing down, so it’s no surprise that package theft numbers keep climbing. To help you understand your risk and learn what you can do to protect your packages, we surveyed thousands of Americans, consulted the leading package theft researcher, and partnered with home security leader, Vivint Smart Home.
We also looked at the major metros where package theft runs rampant—and the ones where packages are the safest. Find out if your town is a porch pirate favorite or a place they tend to sail past.
In this report
Top 10 metro cities where porch pirates strike most
|1||San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA||+1 ↑||2|
|2||Seattle-Tacoma, WA||+ 2 ↑||4|
|3||Austin, TX||+ 3 ↑||6|
|4||Hartford & New Haven, CT||+ 6 ↑||10|
|5||Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA||+ 9 ↑||14|
|6||Los Angeles, CA||+ 9 ↑||15|
|7||Portland, OR||- 0 -||7|
|8||Fresno-Visalia, CA||+ 10 ↑||18|
|9||Milwaukee, WI||+ 17 ↑||26|
|10||New Orleans, LA||+ 14 ↑||24|
A closer look at the cities with the most package theft
- After a one-year drop to second place, San Francisco once again rises to the top of our list for the third time.
- Denver fell off the top 10 this year after claiming the number one spot in 2021.
- Half the cities are newcomers to the top 10 this year: Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Fresno-Visalia, CA; Milwaukee, WI; and New Orleans, LA.
- Surprisingly, California is only the 11th most worried state when it comes to package theft—despite claiming 40% of the top 10 worst cities for porch pirates.
Because there’s no national database tracking package theft, we rely on a combination of Google Trends data and FBI larceny-theft numbers to rank cities. Last year, a city with lower interest in recovering stolen packages could have rated worse for package theft due to a high larceny-theft rate, which includes all kinds of theft. The 2022 report emphasizes package theft concerns over general theft reports.
Top 10 metro cities where porch pirates strike least
|1||Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL||+ 14 ↑||15|
|2||Tampa-St. Petersburg (Sarasota), FL||+ 2 ↑||4|
|3||Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC||+ 19 ↑||22 (9th worst)|
|4||Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL||+ 2 ↑||6|
|5||Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH||- 4 ↓||1|
|6||Detroit, MI||- 3 ↓||3|
|7||Cincinnati, OH||- 5 ↓||2|
|8||Nashville, TN||+ 11 ↑||19|
|9||San Diego, CA||+ 19 ↑||26 (5th worst)|
|10||San Antonio, TX||+ 5 ↑||15|
A closer look at the cities with the least package theft
- Miami is the major metro where porch pirates are least likely to strike, improving 14 spots to land on top this year.
- 2 of the safest metros for package theft were in the top 10 worst metros for package theft in 2021: Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC and San Diego, CA.
- Florida has the highest number of metros (3) on the safest metros list: Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa-St. Petersburg (Sarasota), and Orlando-Daytona-Beach-Melbourne.
- Floridians are the fourth-most worried about package theft, with 57% telling us they’re highly concerned about it—despite having 3 of the top cities that package thieves steer clear of.
- Ohio has two cities that porch pirates tend to sail past: Cleveland-Akron (Canton) and Cincinnati. It’s also the ninth most concerned state when it comes to package theft.
Package theft stats for 2022
For each of the past three years, we’ve polled at least 1,000 Americans to find out how many have fallen victim to package theft and what they’re doing to get ahead of porch pirates.
Package theft frequency and cost
- More than 3 in 4 Americans have been a victim of package theft in their lifetime.
- 79% of Americans have been a victim of package theft in the last 12 months (15 points higher than last year!).
- Over half porch pirate victims have had multiple packages stolen in the past 12 months.
- 40% of all packages stolen are valued between $50–$100—that’s an estimated loss of $19.5 billion.
Value of packages stolen
Package theft happens even when you have security measures in place
Results show that people are getting smarter about protecting their packages, but porch pirates are getting bolder. Here’s what people told us they’re doing to keep their deliveries away from thieves.*
- 35% of those who had a package swiped said they had a security camera or video doorbell camera in place.
- 17% said they caught the porch pirate on camera.
- 8% of recent package theft victims said they had a lockbox or package delivery locker in place.
- 1 in 4 package theft victims added a home security system after their goods were stolen.
- About half of all porch pirate victims rallied neighbors to help protect packages in their neighborhood.
- Making alternate delivery arrangements was the most common action people took after having a package swiped.
*Respondents could check multiple possible responses
Online shopping habits and package theft concerns
Four in 10 Americans plan to do more online shopping this holiday season, which means more money on the line for both package thieves and their victims.
- 41% of Americans say they will shop online more this season than last year.
- 1 in 5 Americans have packages delivered several times a week.
- 80% of Americans are more worried about porch pirates this year.
Package theft vs. other types of crime
In our one-of-a-kind State of Safety survey, we’ve talked to more than 20,000 Americans to see how much they worry about package theft compared to other crimes.
Package theft is the biggest crime concern for Americans
Americans experience package theft more often than other types of crime
Self-reported experiences with crime in the 12 months prior to being surveyed.
Ask the expert: Is package theft getting worse?
We asked Dr. Ben Stickle, an expert on criminal justice and package theft and a member of the SafeWise advisory group, about upticks in porch piracy. He says several variables are likely the cause.
A crime of opportunity
"Package theft is a crime of opportunity. The more packages left for longer periods of time on a porch, the more likely they are to be stolen. As the Christmas gift season gets into full swing, there will be a significant increase in packages on a porch.
"Add to that, people are busier this time of year and have their routine shifted as they may work later and spend more time away from home shopping or visiting with family and friends, so packages are left sitting exposed on the porch for longer.
More packages means more problems
"Finally, while the volume of packages has increased, it’s likely the value of packages has increased as well, making numerous targets even more tempting.
"All of this adds up to easy targets for thieves. Porch piracy is a low-entry crime. There are no special skills needed to walk up a driveway and steal a package.
Package theft is a low-risk crime
"What’s more, the risk is very low as well, and punishment, even if caught, is minimal. Additionally, the media attention given to package thieves may draw more people into the crime as they’re made aware of the opportunity."
Package theft is a crime, but the specific charges depend on state and federal laws. If the carrier is the USPS, you're looking at a federal mail theft felony. But stealing a delivery left by a private company like UPS or FedEx falls under state laws like petty theft, grand theft, trespassing, and mail theft.2 In recent years, states like Texas have increased theft penalties to discourage package theft.3
How do I prevent package theft?
We spoke to Abhi Bhatt, Sr. Vice President of Product and Innovation at Vivint, to get the inside scoop on how to protect packages—his top tips are below.
—Abhi Bhatt, Sr. Vice President of Product and Innovation at Vivint
Protecting packages is a big concern for many people, especially with billions of packages on the way this holiday season. The following are five steps you can take to avoid porch piracy:
- Opt in to delivery alerts. Most retailers or shipping companies allow you to opt in to receive tracking alerts, letting you know immediately when a package has arrived.
- Require signatures for your packages to make sure they can’t be left on the front porch unattended—especially valuable items. The delivery person will try to redeliver the next day, or you can leave instructions to hold the package for pickup. Even better, having a doorbell camera can alert you as the delivery person arrives so you never miss a delivery!
- Ensure your doorstep and outside of your home are properly lit for packages that arrive at night. Installing outdoor lights around your home can help to keep lurkers at bay. Fear of being spotted can even help deter crime—for your home and your neighbors as well. Our Spotlight Pro works with our Outdoor Camera Pro to help detect thieves. Using AI, Vivint equipment follows potential thieves with a bright light and sounds an alarm when they linger too long. This is in addition to notifying you of an intruder on your Vivint app so you can take any necessary follow-up action.
- Reconfigure settings for your outdoor cameras to make sure they’re updated and give you the coverage you need. For example, Vivint users with a Doorbell Camera Pro can enable the “When packages are detected” feature in their settings and can also configure detection zones for all exterior cameras to make sure the full area is covered.
- Install a home security system to dissuade or catch porch pirates. The presence of a video camera at your door alone can scare away thieves. But for those who aren’t deterred by tech, a solution like Doorbell Camera Pro can alert you when a package is delivered, alert thieves that their presence is being recorded, and help you catch culprits.
Video: Package Theft is Getting Worse, Here's What You Can Do About It
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Stop porch pirates in their tracks
Vivint’s innovative doorbell cam is our top tech pick to help deter potential porch pirates.
- Smart package detection spots deliveries
- Flashing light startles porch creepers
- High-pitched whistle or custom sound scares thieves off
- Customized motion zones
What do you do if someone steals your package?
Precautions are a must, but sometimes packages get picked up anyway. Here are some tips from our guide to recovering from package theft:
Who’s responsible for stolen packages?
Until the package hits your porch, the seller bears responsibility for it. After delivery, it becomes your property and your responsibility.
Even though they're no longer responsible, many sellers and carriers may offer full or partial compensation for a loss, so it's a good idea to contact them to learn your options.
How we rank the worst metro cities for package theft
To build our rankings, we analyzed FBI larceny-theft data1 from metro areas across the US (the most current data available as of ranking). Then, we compared it to Google Trends data in areas with the highest number of searches for "missing package" and "stolen package."
We excluded any metro areas that the FBI marked as inaccurate reporting or where there wasn't data from the previous year. In some cases, we combined some metro areas to fit Google's broader definition of metro areas.
While rating each metro area, we dedicated 75% of the score to Google Trends search popularity and the other 25% to the larceny-theft rate per 100,000 people. We normalized each measurement on a 0–1 scale—with 1 corresponding to the value that most positively affects the final score. Finally, we added the adjusted measurements together with the weights above for a score out of 100.
- FBI Crime Data Explorer, "Expanded Property Crime," September 2021. Accessed October 27, 2022.
- Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed, "Do You Go to Jail for Stealing a Package?," June 2021. Accessed October 27, 2022.
- Alex Leroux, KLTV, Gray Television, Inc., "New Law Raises Punishment for Package Theft," August 2019. Accessed October 27, 2022.