The novel coronavirus has given rise to pandemic porch pirates. We've added recommendations to help protect your packages during quarantine.
If you tend to skip the strip mall in favor of online aisles, you know the worry that comes when your delivered packages are left vulnerable on your doorstep. And these worries are well founded.
According to a study by Insurance Quotes, nearly 26 million American shoppers had packages stolen in 2017.1
Don’t let your hassle-free Amazon deliveries fall victim to package thieves. Tracking down stolen itemsdefeats the purpose of all that online convenience and causes unneeded anxiety.
Thankfully, you can take security measures to keep your delivered goodies safe even when you’re not at home. Here are eight smart moves you can make to foil the plans of porch pirates and prevent package theft.
Security cameras do double duty when it comes to protecting your online purchases. Not only can they alert you to a delivery, but they can also record if someone gets away with a package.
Across the country, security cameras are helping people identify and track down porch pirates. A Google search for news about package thieves caught on camera brought up more than 40,000 results.
Look for cameras with motion detectors that can alert you to movement on the porch via your smartphone or other mobile device. Cameras that record and play back activity are also helpful in the event you do get a delivery swiped.
The Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera sends a text or email when it detects movement, and it allows for continuous recording and two-way communication so you can see, hear, and respond to what’s going on.
Tips to Protect Packages During the Pandemic
COVID-19 shutdowns have made us more reliant on package deliveries than ever. Unfortunately, pandemic porch pirates are taking advantage of the abundance of deliveries and new coronavirus rules.
With WFH and stay-at-home orders in place, some forms of package protection may no longer be allowed. You can’t have a parcel delivered to your employer, and your delivery person may not even get the box to your porch if they’re advised against touching gate latches and door knobs.
Here’s what we recommend to help keep packages safe during social distancing and other quarantine rules.
Track all of your deliveries.
Bring your packages into the house ASAP.
Make sure cameras and video doorbells are set to alert you of all motion.
Use delivery lockers when possible.
Learn more about crime trends emerging from the coronavirus pandemic in our weekly roundup.
2. Get to Know Delivery People
Not all security measures are high tech. When it comes to protecting your items, it still pays to be on friendly terms with the drivers who make deliveries in your neighborhood. When you know your delivery person, that means that they also know your package preferences.
You can let your delivery people know where and when you prefer to have packages delivered, and they can recommend alternative options if you’re expecting a lot of packages when you’ll be away from home.
Most delivery drivers have some discretion regarding deliveries. If somethingseems off at your home, a delivery person who knows you is more likely choose to leave you a notice about an attempted delivery instead of leaving your valuables at risk.
3. Use an Amazon Locker
If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, then you’ll love the convenience and safety of Amazon Lockers. These are self-service lockers that let you safely pick up your Amazon purchases at a nearby location (like a convenience store or Whole Foods) when you are ready to take them home.
Amazon Lockers eliminate the need to have items delivered to your home, and they keep your packages secure until you’re available to pick them up. Lockers are currently available nationwide at more than 2,800 locations in over 70 major metropolitan areas.
If you don’t have an Amazon Locker location nearby, you can search for other package delivery lockers through UPS Access. Or, you can buy a personal package locker or dropbox for your front porch.
Simply leave the locker open, and when a package is dropped off, the delivery person closes and locks it—keeping it safe until you return. Just make sure your locker is secured to the porch or heavy enough that a thief can’t walk away with the whole thing.
One of the best ways to ensure that a package won’t be taken from your porch is to make sure it isn’t left out in the open. There are a number of lockboxes and secure parcel drops that can either replace your current mailbox or be added specifically for package delivery.
Another good security practice is to get together with neighbors to fight package theft. Agree to look out for strangers in the neighborhood and keep an eye on deliveries at one another’s homes.
You may be able to have packages delivered to a neighbor who will be home. Or, you can ask a neighbor to grab a package off your porch if you’re alerted to a delivery via a security camera or delivery notification.
There’s even a way to make some extra money by becoming the neighborhood package service. eNeighbr is a mobile app where you can sign up to receive deliveries for others or find a nearby neighbor who will accept your packages.
These Wi-Fi enabled doorbell cameras let you see—and talk to—whoever is at the front door, whether you’re in the kitchen or at the office. The Ring Video Doorbell includes a motion-activated camera, two-way audio, and an app that sends alerts to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
The presence of a video doorbell might keep your packages from being stolen—or help you catch the person who committed the dastardly deed if a thief does take off with your goods.
7. Use Amazon Key
In-home delivery is difficult to get if you’re not at home. But Amazon has you covered.
Key by Amazon is another way to prevent Amazon package theft. This free app lets Amazon delivery drivers safely place your packages inside your garage, car, or home.
With Amazon Key, you can remotely grant access to delivery people to make sure your packages are always delivered securely. You can schedule deliveries and get real-time alerts (and live video footage) about the status of your package.
But Amazon Key isn’t available in all areas, and you can only get Amazon Key deliveries if you’re an Amazon Prime member. Here’s what you need to know to find out if you’re eligible for Amazon Key.
All Amazon Key services are only available in certain areas.
Key for Home works with compatible smart locks and cameras.
You may need a Smart Garage Kit to use Key for Garage.
You can check online to see if your garage door is compatible and if Key for Garage is available in your area.
Key for Car works with eligible Acura, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, and Volvo cars.
You need a connected car service like OnStar, On Call, FordPass, or Lincoln Way to use Key for Car.
Amazon Key for Car deliveries can be made as long as your car is parked within two blocks of the delivery address.
7. Pick Up Packages in Person
It may not be quite as convenient as receiving deliveries at your front door, but one sure way to guarantee safety is to have packages held at the post office or delivery service store until you can pick them up yourself.
Both FedEx and UPS provide options for you to have packages held at a local location rather than dropped off at your home. Another way to ensure secure delivery is to require a signature upon receipt. That way, if you’re not home to accept the delivery, your packages won’t be left unattended.
Another way to prevent package theft is to sign up for package delivery tracking. Most delivery companies—including Amazon—let you track your package from the warehouse right up to your porch.
I get alerts from Amazon, USPS, and UPS that tell me when my delivery is within five or fewer stops of my house. That way I can either make sure I’m home when the package is delivered, or ask a friend or neighbor to grab it for me.
Tracking your deliveries is a great way to make sure your packages land in your hands—not those of a porch pirate.
With more shopping conducted online than ever before, it’s important to keep your goods secure upon delivery.
Unfortunately, we can’t always be home, but that doesn’t mean we need to give package poachers an invitation to nab our purchases.
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 six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more