Porch piracy: tips and tech to stop package theft

Anton P. | December 14, 2022

Package theft or porch piracy can ruin a holiday season or the high expectations for an item you ordered. Many deliveries get dropped at doorsteps, and package thieves scour the neighborhoods for easy targets. 

2022 statistics show that 1 in 7 Americans have had their packages stolen. Thus, you should know how to protect your front porch and parcels that end up there. 

This article discusses the ways and tech devices that can help prevent package theft or discover the culprits. 

Porch piracy: tips and tech to stop package theft

What is porch piracy? 

Package theft means that someone steals the parcel dropped at your front door. The increase in such illegal actions directly relates to booming online shopping

After all, home delivery is becoming a norm, and visiting physical stores is more uncommon. 

Sadly, packages left at a location visible from the street are a threat. Some apartment buildings also have small post boxes, meaning larger parcels might get dropped near them. 

How common package stealing is

So, package theft happens when a culprit sees an unsupervised package and swipes it. Unfortunately, porch piracy shows no signs of slowing down, especially during the holiday season

  • Recent 2022 statistics indicate that 14% of Americans have fallen victim to porch pirates. 
  • 67% of victims explain having one package stolen. 
  • 22% claim to have two parcels stolen. 
  • 11% report having three or more packages swiped. 
  • The average value of lost parcels is $112.30.

Are delivery companies and sellers responsible for porch piracy? 

Victims of package theft will usually contact delivery companies and sellers about missing packages. For instance, tracking numbers might indicate that the parcel should be with the intended recipients. 

However, retailers have different policies regarding refunds or replacements in case of porch piracy. Take a look at these three scenarios: 

Sellers might offer no protection for missing packages

That means retrieving the parcel is your sole responsibility. You can find such conditions on retailers’ terms of use documents. 

Retailers might offer compensation for stolen packages

Knowing the competition among online retailers, they will try to accommodate clients’ troubles. For instance, if you file a claim with Amazon, you will surely get a refund. Usually, big retailers side with buyers and protect their purchases. 

Filing a claim with the shipping company

If sellers are uncooperative, you might also file a complaint with the delivery company. Most shipping entities can urge you to contact the sender of goods. However, you can file a claim, and the delivery company will investigate the incident. UPS and USPS have explanations for this process. 

However, even if victims get a refund for their package theft, it does not help in the long run. Porch piracy can be a repetitive burden, especially in more remote streets. 

Is porch piracy a federal crime? 

Package theft is a federal crime in Kentucky and Texas. However, other states might not have laws for packages delivered via FedEx, Amazon, and UPS. 

Theft of mail from the US Postal Service is a federal crime in all states. Sadly, this protection covers a small portion of packages. 

Thus, the legal repercussions of porch piracy differ based on state. Even if states offer such legislation, experts see many unhealthy patterns

What can you do if someone steals your package? 

Package theft can be overwhelming, especially if it has never happened to you before. These recommendations should help you deal with the situation in the best way possible: 

  1. Double-check the tracking number to see the parcel’s location. If the delivery and retailer claim completed delivery, the goods might have been stolen. 
  2. You might ask whether your neighbors saw anything or had it delivered to them by mistake. 
  3. Contact the sender about a possible refund or replacement. 
  4. File a police report to your local authorities. It might take time to track down the culprit. However, a report will strengthen your insurance claim. 
  5. If necessary, contact your credit card company and exercise Purchase protection.
  6. Take precautions to protect your parcels in the future. 

General recommendations for how to prevent package theft

Porch pirates can walk around neighborhoods to find unguarded parcels. Some thieves might even follow delivery trucks to find potential victims. 

These general tips can protect your packages from getting stolen. 

  • Check the tracking number 

Tracking numbers help prevent package pirates from ever seeing your parcel. For instance, you might try to be home when your delivery arrives. Then, you can meet the delivery people in person and take the box inside. 

  • Ask neighbors to pick up the package

You can ask neighbors to pick up your packages if you are not home. Inform them when the parcel should arrive. Then, neighbors can retrieve the box as soon as possible. 

  • Give instructions to delivery companies 

Package theft is usually possible when the parcel is in a visible place. The front porch is the preferred place for delivered goods. However, the backyard, behind benches, or bushes are better spots to prevent porch pirates from spotting your package. 

  • Try porch lockboxes 

Porch lockboxes are one of the best options for preventing porch piracy. After a delivery person places the item, you will need a key or a combination to access it. 

Thus, petty criminals walking around the neighborhood for easy targets won’t bother you. 

  • Change delivery time or place

Change the parcel delivery time or place if you will not be home during its arrival. You can also divert the package to your office or another safe location.

Pick the option that would require you to meet the delivery person and sign their documents. If you are not home, the package might be available at the post office for pickup. 

  • Pick parcel machines for delivery

Parcel lockers are special machines where delivery companies place parcels for pickup. Usually, they are in various locations, meaning you will likely find one nearby. Thus, you can pick up the package at your earliest convenience. 

Since parcel lockers require special codes, likely sent via emails or SMS messages, no one else can get them. 

Tech gadgets to help against package theft 

Many people and even police use bait packages to lure potential porch pirates. It means placing a parcel, likely with trackers and security cameras, and hoping culprits steal packages. 

Other consumers fill boxes with trash to teach thieves a lesson. However, smart home security systems can help you prevent package theft or even recognize the people responsible. 

  • Doorbell cameras can be affordable and let you identify potential parcel thieves. They can include motion alerts and a live video feed. 
  • Battery-powered security cameras can be beneficial for scaring the porch pirate. They can include two-way talk to communicate with the suspicious individual. Some even include siren sounds to alert people nearby.  
  • Smart sensors in your mailbox can send alerts to your phone when someone opens it. You can use these sensors with smart lighting, video doorbell cameras, and other devices. 
  • Package deliveries straight into your home are an unusual option. Essentially, delivery companies place parcels inside your house. It requires a smart lock and an indoor security camera.
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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.


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