No matter the reason or the season, it’s always exciting when you see a package arrive at your doorstep. Maybe it’s a delivery of something you really need or a gift from a loved one. Whatever you’re expecting, that “feel-good” rush can quickly dissipate if you realize your package has been stolen.
With the ongoing pandemic and rise of online shopping, there’s been a strong increase in no-contact deliveries in the U.S. —and with the promise of next-day shipping, it’s easy to order whatever you want with a few clicks. But that climb in package deliveries has also come with the rise of porch pirates.
According to a study by Safewise, an estimated 210 million packages were stolen in 2021. Whether or not you've been a victim of porch pirates in the past, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your valuables are protected in the future.
Check Your Security Camera
If you have a security system installed, the first thing you want to do is check the video recordings to see if there’s footage of the crime taking place. Many security cameras can detect motion and will begin recording as soon as movement is detected. And some smart security systems can distinguish between your regular mailperson and someone standing around looking for packages to steal. For example, Video Analytics with Brinks Home™ works in real time to alert you to activity on and around your property according to your preferences, such as if someone is loitering in front of your door for too long.
Most modern security systems sync your cameras to your mobile device, so if you’re away, you can check on your home throughout the day to see if your package has been delivered. If you have video footage of a suspicious someone stealing your stuff, that can also be used as evidence when you file a police report.
Contact the Sender
If you don’t have physical proof of a porch pirate in action, there are steps to take if your package hasn’t arrived by the delivery window and you’re afraid it’s been stolen. First, it’s best to contact the sender before taking more drastic measures. They may be able to see from their end if there have been any delivery delays and can provide more accurate tracking information.
If your package has indeed been stolen, you can also reach out to the sender to see if they’re able to offer a refund or replacement. Many large retailers allow you to file a claim, and customer service will quickly issue a refund if anything is amiss. If you purchased from a small, independent seller and the item is potentially one-of-a-kind, you might have a harder time getting a refund or replacement. That’s why it’s advisable to purchase package insurance—especially if the item is of high value.
Contact the Carrier
If your package is shown in your alerts as being delivered, but no box is present, consider filing a claim with the shipping company. Each shipping company has different requirements when it comes to stolen packages, so be sure to check their individual policies before filing a claim. It’s helpful to have the tracking number, proof of insurance, proof of the package’s value, and any photo or video footage you have of the item being stolen.
Ask Your Neighbors
If you’re on friendly terms with your neighbors, ask around to see if your package was possibly delivered to them by mistake. If anything, you might be able to find out if they noticed your package being delivered when you weren’t home, or if there was a suspicious person snooping around your property.
Talk to Your Credit Card Company or Insurance
If you purchased your missing item(s) with a credit card, you may be able to request a replacement or refund, depending on the issuer. Some companies will only offer package protection if your order was damaged, while others have limits on the amount you can file per claim and per account—which means the more expensive the stolen valuable is, the less likely you’ll be able to get your money’s worth back. Most credit card companies also require an extensive digital or paper trail, such as a copy of your credit card statement, an itemized receipt, a copy of a filed police report, and insurance documentation.
Your insurance company may also offer package protection, but only for big-ticket items. If the amount stolen exceeds your deductible, your insurance may be able to issue a refund—but it comes with a catch. Before filing a claim, decide if the price of the purchase is worth the possibility of your premium increasing.
File a Police Report
Again, if you have proof of the porch pirate in action, you can file a police report. Provide them with any photos or video evidence you have of your purchase being stolen, as well as important details, like time of delivery and time of theft. While much might not be done unless the problem is frequent or widespread, a police report is beneficial if you intend to file a claim with your credit card company or insurance.
The greatest asset you can have when it comes to getting a replacement or refund for a stolen package is proof. Luckily, technology has come a long way and there are plenty of options to prevent porch pirates—and even stop them in their tracks.
A doorbell camera is a helpful deterrent when it comes to property vandalism and theft. It will alert you on your mobile device when someone is approaching your home, so you can take action if needed. Plus, they allow you to access live video footage or past recordings. Some, like Brinks Home’s SkyBell Slim Line Video Doorbell, include 2-way audio, so you can communicate with whomever is there at the time. While yelling “Stop, thief!” might not keep the burglar from grabbing your package and running away, it probably will make them think twice about stealing from your stoop again.
Like doorbell cameras, smart outdoor cameras provide motion detection and are useful for relaying live and recorded video footage to your mobile device. When you place outdoor cameras around your property, you’re able to get a full view of your home and the surrounding area, including your porch. So if someone decides to go beyond theft outside your front door, you’ll be ready.
Get Your Packages Delivered Somewhere Else
If you find it too risky to have your packages delivered at home, you have plenty of options to ensure secure delivery. Some large retail companies, like Amazon, have lockers where you can choose to have your packages delivered. You can also rent a mailbox at secure locations like the post office or UPS.
If your mail is frequently delivered while you’re somewhere else, like work, see if your office will allow you to accept deliveries there instead of at your home.
If you have a smart garage door opener, you can even remotely open and close the garage door for the delivery person so you can ensure your package isn’t sitting out in the open all day while you’re at work.
Time Your Delivery
The best way to keep your possessions from being poached is to be there when they’re delivered. If you’re at home, the mailperson can hand your mail to you in person, so there’s no risk of someone sneaking off with it. Tracking packages on your smart devices and choosing a delivery window for when you’ll be home will help ensure you’re there when they arrive. Requesting a signature upon delivery also adds an extra layer of protection.
If you’re on vacation or frequently away from home and afraid of missing deliveries, see if a trusted neighbor or friend will accept and hold onto your packages for you.
Place Security Signs in Your Yard or Window
If your home is protected by a security company, they’ll usually provide you with a yard sign or window sticker to advertise their services. If you have one of these in place, cautious burglars will tend to think twice before stealing anything, as they don’t want to get caught. But be advised: Placing a fake security sign on your property can lead to a wealth of headaches, from untraceable break-ins to copyright violations.
Brinks Home™ provides a wealth of products designed to protect your home and potentially prevent theft. Contact us today to learn about our free professional installation.
Your request has been submitted.
One of our expert security consultants will be in touch. Together, we'll design a smart home security system to fit your lifestyle.
Complete this form and a Brinks Home™ Security Consultant will reach out regarding building your security system.