Law enforcement agencies don’t track package theft, so there’s very little data to figure out how often it happens, especially when it comes to package theft in apartments. Chances are, though, it’s happened to you or someone you know. It may have been a package stolen from an apartment lobby or your hallway. To help, we’ve researched the best ways to prevent apartment package theft.
How to prevent package theft in apartments
How to prevent package theft in apartments
How to avoid package theft from porch pirates
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1. Divert delivery
One of the easiest ways to thwart package theft is sending your packages to a trusted family member or friend that will be present during the time of the delivery. Bonus points if that home has a package locker to keep the delivery safe.
A package locker is a metal or plastic box that sits on a porch. The delivery person drops the package into the box, but once it’s in there, no one can get it out without a key or code to unlock the door. And the package locker is weighted so no one can walk off with it.
—Dr. Ben Stickle, criminal justice and theft expert
Just make sure you have permission to route your packages to your family or friend’s home and that you use their address as your shipping address when ordering items. Your friend may be more willing to be your shipping buddy if you get a package locker for their porch, so both of you win.
If your package has already shipped, a call to the shipping company with your tracking number can sometimes get the package rerouted without much fuss. Some companies will even let you reroute online.
Don’t have friends or family that can receive your packages? No problem. Call the delivery company (or go online) to send the package to their local hub and pick it up there.
2. Use delivery tracking
Tracking your packages can help you pounce on your package as soon as it arrives. But you’re too busy to be constantly refreshing the tracking page. Instead, sign up for shipping alerts delivered to your phone or email.
You’ll need to sign up for the delivery company’s free delivery management service to get started. Once you’re signed up, you can set up text or email notifications.
When you get a notification, you can go to your delivery management dashboard and have a package held at the local shipping office for pickup or reschedule your delivery for a time when you’re home.
How to set up delivery tracking notifications with USPS
- Go to the USPS home page.
- Click on Informed Delivery.
- Choose Sign Up for Free.
- Follow the instructions to sign up for an account and verify your identity.
How to set up delivery tracking notifications with FedEx
- Go to the FedEx Delivery Manager page.
- Click the Sign Up for Free button at the top of the page.
- Follow the on-screen directions.
- Verify your identity.
- Select what types of notifications you want to receive.
How to set up delivery tracking notifications with UPS
- Go to the UPS My Choice page.
- Choose the Sign Up button.
- Follow the instructions.
- Choose what type of notifications you want to receive.
—Dr. Ben Stickle
3. Require a signature
If you have the option of requiring a signature on delivery, do it. If you’re not at home, the package won’t be left in front of your door. And unless a package-napper is willing to stand by your door 24/7, they won’t be there to forge your signature and gain access to your delivery.
4. Have your packages held at the front desk
If your apartment has a front desk in the lobby, you can have all of your deliveries held there until you get home. Many online stores will let you add delivery instructions to your order at the checkout to make sure your package is delivered to the right place.
5. Get a video doorbell camera
A video doorbell camera can “see” packages using AI technology and alert you when a package is delivered. Even better, it will record if anyone tries to take the delivery.
Some apartments have privacy rules that don’t allow tenant-owned security cameras. Before you purchase a video doorbell camera, make sure there aren’t any rules against them in your lease, or ask your building manager.
There are a few video doorbell security camera must-haves to combat package piracy in apartments:
- No wires: It needs to get its power from batteries since most apartments don’t have doorbell wiring.
- Two-way talk: This feature is useful for talking to potential package thieves to scare them away, even when you’re not home.
- Video storage: Videos need to be stored locally or in the cloud so there’s video evidence if your package is stolen.
- Package detection: With this feature, you’ll know when to run out to grab your package or have a neighbor grab it for you.
The best video doorbells for apartment package thieves
Our top pick for combating apartment package thieves is the Ring Video Doorbell 4. It meets all of our criteria for an apartment package theft deterring doorbell camera, plus, it has a lot of great features:
- Dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity: gives you options on how the doorbell connects to your network (2.4 or 5.0 GHz)
- 160° field of view (way above industry standard): records people from head to toe, which helps identify potential thieves
- Pre-Roll feature: makes recordings four seconds before the motion sensor is triggered provides more footage of potential thieves
- Quick Replies feature: lets you answer the doorbell with pre-recorded responses if you don’t feel like talking
- Ring Neighborhood App: helps you connect with your neighbors to find lost packages or help each other keep watch over deliveries
Attach your video doorbell to your door or doorframe with heavy-duty double-sided tape instead of screws to decrease damage. We’ve tested this with Ring video doorbells, and it worked great.
6. Use a parcel locker service
Parcel lockers are just what they sound like. They’re self-service lockers at your local grocery store or other location that will hold your delivery until you can pick it up. You can use the Amazon Locker tool to find an Amazon Locker hub near you. Then, select the Amazon Hub location as your shipping address.
If there’s not an Amazon locker near you (or you just don’t like Amazon), you can search for non-Amazon delivery lockers near you with the UPS Access tool.
An Amazon Hub Apartment Locker is a locker service found in some apartment lobbies. Amazon Hub Apartment Locker is only available if your apartment building signs up for the service, so you’ll need to talk to your building manager or co-op to implement it if your building doesn’t already have a hub.
7. Use Amazon Key
If you’re a Prime Member in specific locations, Amazon Key might be the answer. You just download the Key by Amazon app and use it to give Amazon delivery drivers access to your apartment so they can place the package inside, out of a nabber’s reach.
For it to work, you’ll need a compatible smart lock and possibly a Smart Lock Kit so your apartment door can unlock when the delivery person arrives and lock back up once your package is safely inside.
First, file a police report for the stolen package, and then contact the sender. Many times, the sender will send out a replacement. Check out our lost/stolen package guide to learn everything you should do after someone steals your package.
Contact the USPS technical support at +1-800-344-7779 and file a claim. The customer service representative will guide you through the process.
First, make sure you know it was a neighbor and not some random person who gained access to the apartment building. Setting up a doorbell camera can be handy for gathering proof.
Next, contact your landlord and local police department to present proof of the package-napping. Don’t confront the neighbor yourself. This is one of those situations where talking it out probably won’t help, and you may find yourself in an altercation.
Our research shows that your landlord probably isn’t responsible for stolen packages unless it’s outlined in your lease.
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