For years, every now and then in newspapers’ police blotters, there would be reports during the holiday season of some “grinches” stealing Christmas decorations from people’s yards.
“Some Christmas spirit!” I would think. Don’t those culprits have any self-respect? Have they no shame? Apparently not.
These days such grinches are dubbed “porch pirates.” They brazenly steal delivered packages from front steps, porches and decks.
In December, I suspected two packages I’d ordered online (Christmas gifts) may have been stolen from my deck, but I can’t be sure because a few times other packages had been mis-delivered by FedEx, UPS or other delivery trucks, left at the wrong homes in this neighborhood. The various honest neighbors who received them were so kind as to bring them over to me.
Recently, I began to research the topic of “Porch Pirates.” I was stunned to learn during the last year, surveys revealed an estimated 260 million delivered packages were snatched by pirates. That was an increase of 50 million from the year before, according to SafeWise, an online guide to security and safety products. Porch-pirate thefts increase during the holiday season, but it happens year-round, an estimated loss of nearly $20 billion.
Pandemic social isolation caused more people to shop online only – an unfortunate fact because that keeps shoppers away from local stores that boost local economies.
Most of us have seen on the news videos of porch pirates in action, stealthily walking or running up to a package by a home, snatching it and hurrying off, usually to a waiting vehicle.
Here are tips to discourage pirates:
Buy and install a “video security doorbell.” Many of them contain motion sensors that send an audio alert when someone approaches your front door. If the someone on your front step or deck appears to be up to no good, you can talk to the culprit remotely and let them know their every move is being recorded. Up to 90 percent of pirates will refrain from theft if they see a plainly visible video/audio system near the door/porch/deck. Those kinds of security systems, including the “video doorbell,” can be purchased for under $150, a very good investment and not just because of porch pirates but for home dwellers to be aware of others who may be up to no good.
You can even buy fake security cameras/systems that look like the real McCoy. They, too, tend to keep porch pirates at bay, but an investment for a good, workable system is highly recommended for multiple home security reasons.
Most online ordering services – Amazon, for example – send you emails or text messages when your package ships and the day of its arrival. People can sign up for such notifications with the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx. On the day of arrival, be sure you or someone else is home to expect the package and to retrieve it immediately. Otherwise, notify a neighbor to watch for the arrival and intercept the package for you.
You can also request a package get delivered to the home address of a trusty neighbor, relative or at your place of work. That tip is especially advisable if you plan to order an item that is very expensive.
You can pick up a package from a UPS or FedEx store or at an Amazon Hub locker. But you must request that option when you order the item(s). Amazon lockers are often placed at convenience stores or pharmacies. Amazon then sends you a code number in order to access your package in a locker. Again, this method is advisable when ordering expensive items.
Signing for packages
Some companies give an option for you to require signing your name when the delivery person brings it to you. Check into that possibility.
Report a porch-pirate theft to law enforcement and then request a refund or replacement product from the company. Some companies will comply with such a request.