Porch pirates are capitalizing on the uptick of online sales during the pandemic made by those actively avoiding crowded malls and shopping centers.
Nearly 14% of Americans — 35.5 million — claim they’ve been victimized, according to new survey data conducted by Finder.com. Overall, the theft amounts to $5.4 billion worth of stolen items in the past year alone. On a per-person scale, that total averages out to $156.82 worth of goods claimed by porch pirates in the United States.
“Fortunately, though, there are a couple ways to protect yourself from becoming a porch pirate’s next victim,” said Cheryl Wagemann, Finder's shopping editor.
Depending on the type of property you call home, there are different interventions you can take to prevent your packages from being stolen off of your front door or in your lobby. Each tactic also comes with a different level of investment.
As long as your items are coming from Amazon and you live within a reasonable distance, ship your items to an Amazon Locker, the company’s self-service package delivery kiosk.
Request a signature on delivery and if you miss the delivery person, you can pick up from the nearest hub or facility.
Ship the package to a trusted neighbor or relative who will be home, Wagemann suggested. “If you’re friendly with your neighbors, you can also make a pact to keep an eye on each other’s deliveries when you’re both home,” she said.
Depending on your employment status and if it’s permitted by your employer, have packages delivered to you at work. The downside is that you might not have access to the mailroom on weekends.
Track your deliveries online and plan to be home when they arrive to minimize the time they’re left unattended, Wagemann said.
Forget home delivery altogether and opt for in-store or curbside pickup.
If delivery instructions and an alternative entrance is available, request the package be left out of sight at a rear or side door.
Rent a post office box through the U.S. Postal Service. Rates depend on where you live, length of rental, and dimensions of the box. One downside is that you’ll have to make more frequent trips to the post office, but it might be worth the peace of mind that your items are secured.
Thieves don’t take well to the spotlight, so installing a motion-activated light may thwart their devious behavior. Entry-level security lights begin around $25 at Home Depot and require minimal installation.
Surveilling your front door with a security camera might be the appropriate action for you to catch a criminal in the act. Popular brands include Ring and Nest, and equipment begins around $200. If you’re able to make a hefty investment, home security companies like ADT and Brinks Home Security can rig your home with sirens, motion detectors, and provide 24/7 monitoring for unwelcome activity.
Read more information and tips in our Spending section