Protecting Your Packages from Porch Pirates

By Diane Tait

Image courtesy flickr
With the holiday season in full swing, the sheer volume of delivery trucks is at a fever pitch. Unfortunately, so are porch pirates who make their living pilfering parcels.  With more than 13 billion parcels being delivered in the US every year, I thought it was high time that I showed you a few secrets to scuttle these mailbox marauders.  At stake is some $124 billion, which is how much American consumers spent online during the holidays last year.  If you don’t want your packages to go down with the ship, here’s what you need to know.

Sticky Fingers – With more and more people purchasing products online and parcel delivery services dropping off packages at all times of the day and night, it’s no wonder that 30% of consumers report that their goods have been pilfered.  Some porch pirates are brazen enough to tail a delivery driver until they see a package that piques their interest.  Others simply cruise through affluent neighborhoods looking for untended boxes left near the door.  These bandits don’t have any idea of what they’ve stolen until after the fact.  Nor do they care if they’re caught on camera, as one female porch pirate was recently in Orange County, Florida.  The consumer whose package she purloined got the last laugh, since the parcel was filled with live worms for a pet bearded dragon.  This isn’t the usual outcome though.  Even though cameras can and do catch porch pirates in the act, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the thief is going to be apprehended, let alone prosecuted.  Not by a long shot.

Image courtesy
When cheap, fast or good isn’t so good. – The Internet has caused an explosion in goods that are cheap and can be delivered fast.  This has caused an explosion in parcel deliveries from coast to coast.  The problem is that most of the packages delivered aren’t secured.  There’s rarely a requirement for a signature, unless you’ve ordered wine online.  As a result, delivery drivers simply park the parcel at your front door.  They may or may not even knock to let you know that a package has arrived.  This drop and go attitude has been a boon for petty thieves who find it easy and profitable to troll neighborhoods for untended packages that can be scooped up and resold online.   

What can you do to thwart package thieves? – First and foremost, don’t roll out the welcome mat for thieves.  While installing motion sensor lights and security cameras helps, as you’ve already learned, this doesn’t necessarily stop package pirates.  A more proactive approach is to purchase an anti-theft device made specifically to secure purchases left on your doorstep.  That’s right, you can buy a lockbox that allows a delivery driver to deposit a package but requires a key to open it up.  There are also hi-tech apps like The Package Guard, that provide real time notification of package deliveries.  This way you can either retrieve the parcel as soon as it arrives or you can alert a friend or neighbor to collect your goods before a thief has time to grab them off your porch.  

Choose delivery companies that offer built-in protection – Some companies, such as UPS accept liability for any goods lost or stolen up to $100 where there is no declared value and up to $50,000 in value for packages with a declared value.  Most shippers, including the US Postal Service are willing to sell you insurance on a package.

Image courtesy PxHere
Have packages delivered to your office instead of your home. – Thieves are much more reluctant to troll office buildings, since many employ guards.  Not to mention that most business deliveries are brought directly to the recipient.  That means it’s much more secure to have your packages delivered to your desk than your front door.  Another option is to have your packages delivered directly to a friend or neighbor.  When I went on vacation a couple of years ago, I asked my next-door neighbor who works at home to collect my mail.  I also had a wine shipment I was expecting delivered to her door instead of mine.

Have your goods delivered to a package hub or retail outlet. – If you’re worried about thieves intercepting your deliveries and don’t have anyone else you can trust to pick up your packages when they arrive, there are other alternatives.  Several delivery companies offer to deliver your packages to a secure location where you can pick them up at your leisure.  UPS offers what they call Access Point locations.  In fact, the company is currently offering up to $15 if you opt to redirect all your holiday deliveries to one of these locations.  Amazon has what it calls HUBLockers, which are secure self-service kiosks located at various points near you. Fedex offers to ship your packages for pickup at your choice of a retail establishment near you.  While any of these alternatives might require a bit more effort than having packages delivered to your door, in the season of giving, using alternative shipping sights is guaranteed not to give any of your gifts to porch pirates.

Are stolen packages covered by your homeowner’s policy?The answer is yes and no.  Yes, they are covered.  The problem is once you factor in your deductible, chances are it won’t be worth it to file a claim.  The bottom line is anything worth filing a claim over is probably worth requiring a signature before accepting delivery.

Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on auto insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at left.


  1. Don't let the Grinch steal your Christmas gifts.

  2. This the season to protect your packages (actually it's always the season to protect your packages)! Best check your list and door step twice! ;D


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