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How to Stop Porch Pirates

Blog - How to Stop Porch Pirates

Online shopping is one of the little joys of modern life: A few clicks on your computer or smartphone and, like magic, the package appears at your door a few days later. Especially during these times of quarantine, online ordering is the go-to to get what we need at our home without going out.

Unfortunately, it’s not just shoppers who enjoy the convenience of online ordering. Porch pirates – criminals who swoop in and steal packages from the front porches and doorsteps of the intended recipients – are a growing problem.

What to do if your package is missing

If your package is stolen, follow these steps to seek a replacement item or reimbursement.

  • File a police report. If you suspect something has been stolen, call the police. If others in your neighborhood report similar problems, they may be able to launch an investigation and find the thief.
  • Contact the delivery carrier. Depending on how the package was shipped, you may have protections provided by the carrier.
  • Contact the seller or retailer. Report the missing package to the seller and request a replacement or refund.
  • Check your credit card for purchase protection. Many credit cards offer purchase protection. If the one you used to pay for a stolen purchase does, your credit card company may be able to reimburse you for the value of your loss.
Home insurance coverage

Most renters insurance or homeowners policies cover stolen packages. However, whether or not you have coverage for an incident like this varies greatly. If you have questions about your coverage, the best thing to do is ask your insurance broker.

Home insurance coverage is likely helpful only for an expensive purchase that’s worth a lot more than your deductible. And even if the lost item is more than the deductible, you’ll need to weigh the possibility of an increase in premiums after the claim.

If you’re ordering something very valuable, don’t opt for unattended delivery. Plan to be home during the delivery window, or have a trusted neighbor sign for and hang onto the package for you.

How to prevent package theft

Here are some good ways to deter would-be package thieves:

  • Make it look like you’re home. Package theft (and burglary in general) is less likely if it looks like someone is home. Leave your TV on and use a timer to turn your interior and exterior lights on and off. Draw the curtains or blinds to prevent peekers, and keep your property well-lit.
  • Insure your package. If you’re ordering a high-value item, such as a new smartphone or laptop, paying a few extra dollars for package insurance is a good idea.
  • Install a security camera or video doorbell. Many home security cameras and video cameras are easy to install and sync with a phone app, so you can check in on packages left throughout the day and receive delivery alerts. The mere presence of these cameras may help deter porch pirates, but even if it doesn’t, they can provide evidence for a police report or insurance claim. They may even get you a discount on your home insurance.
  • Use a lockbox. Have packages delivered to a secure third-party recipient, such as Amazon Locker. Local grocery and package delivery stores may also offer this service. For smaller items, you can buy a sturdy lockbox that sits outside and protects your packages until you get home.

If you receive frequent package deliveries, talk to your insurance broker about available options to minimize potential losses and eliminate aggravation.