The holiday season is big business for porch pirates. The US Postal Service forecasts between 850 and 950 million package deliveries for the 2021 holiday season. According to market research firm C + R Research, package theft continues to be a problem for many Americans, with about a quarter (23%) of consumers experienced package theft in 2021. And while in the state of Texas, it’s a crime to steal packages from porches, not all thieves are deterred. BBB reminds consumers that there are steps that can be taken to prevent porch hackers from running away with the goods.
Package thieves, also known as âporch pirates,â often take advantage of an opportunity and may frequent one neighborhood or community multiple times before moving on to another. They will often target homes that offer a quick in and out route, especially if the porch or area where packages are delivered is within 25 feet of the street and is easily visible. Over the past five years, Internet searches using the keywords “stolen package” nearly doubled in December, demonstrating the impact of this crime on households across the country.
“The surge in online shopping presents an opportune time for thieves to loot holiday loot from the doorsteps of unsuspecting households,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “It is very important to take preventive measures and to keep an eye out for criminals who scour neighborhoods looking for packages left on doorsteps.”
BBB provides the following tips to prevent package thieves from affecting your vacation plans (and the rest of the year):
Check with neighbors. Sometimes your package may not be stolen at all, just to the wrong address. Before making a report or contacting the sender, check with your neighbors and see if the delivery service left your package at the wrong address. Many delivery companies will take photos of your package at the designated location – be sure to check the photo and verify it’s in the correct location.
Do not leave packages unattended. When possible, do not leave delivered packages unattended for long periods of time. If you are expecting a package, try to schedule it for delivery when you know you’ll be home. Ask your neighbors if they would agree to keep the packages delivered if you plan to be away for a long time during the holidays. Have it delivered to your office if your employer allows it.
Ship to store. If you are purchasing an item from a retailer that has a physical location near you, consider shipping it there instead. Retailers will require proof of purchase or identification before releasing any packages they have received, and this is a sure way to avoid porch hackers.
Use a security camera. Installing a home security system with cameras or just a camera-compatible doorbell is a great way to deter package theft, especially when it’s highly visible. Consider including a sign specifically indicating that the residence is under surveillance. Even if a package is stolen from your front porch, video evidence will help law enforcement track thieves.
Require a signature. Many delivery companies include the option to require a signature before leaving a package, which allows you to physically take possession of the item upon delivery. While this option works well for those who are at home a lot, especially with expensive items, it can create challenges receiving packages if your schedule and delivery service are different. Be sure to check with the delivery company for their policy regarding packages that are unsigned; they can resend it to the sender after a certain number of attempts.
Consider a receiving package service. Some large retailers, such as Amazon, offer secure parcel receiving locations away from your home that you can access with a key or code. Some independent companies also specialize in this service, allowing you to designate a different delivery location for your packages and the option to collect them on the way home.
If you are concerned that your package has been stolen, file a report with your local police department and the delivery company. Depending on the delivery service you use, they may offer insurance or other policies to reimburse you for your losses.
For more vacation tips, visit the BBB Holiday Tips page. For more tips on how to be an informed consumer, visit bbb.org.
To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.
BBB is a business-backed, non-profit organization that sets and maintains high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB consumer services are free. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB company profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on matters affecting market confidence. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.