Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, online shopping and delivery has taken off more than ever. A trend that is likely to continue even after lockdowns and shelter in place orders are removed.
At some point the package you ordered needs to make it from its original location to your household. Whether it’s contactless deliveries or because you are not home delivery drivers sometimes need to leave the parcel unattended.
The downside of this is that your package is at risk of theft. Each year, the number of packages stolen from porches or doorsteps seems to increase. Searching local news websites will bring up stories or video camera footage of package thefts.
These thefts are by groups of criminals known as “porch pirates” or “box bandits”. They are known to tailgate delivery vehicles around neighborhoods and take packages almost soon as they are left.
So, what can be done to stop your packages being stolen?
As with most things security related nothing will ever stop theft it’s all about deterrent. In that vain, we’ve compiled a list of 8 top tips to make your packages more secure.
1.Plan to be at home
Not always possible but the number one thing you can do is make sure someone is home when your parcel is delivered so that the package is not left unattended.
If you can’t be home then make sure that the amount of time between the parcel and drop off is as minimal as possible.
With the growth of online shopping many companies now offer more and more options for time of delivery so pick the one that best suits your availability. This extends to making sure that you don’t select dates when you will be away on vacation or work business.
2. Watch out for suspicious activity
Be on the lookout for suspicious behaviour or events. It is not unknown for package thieves to send out phishing e-mails and texts to trick you in to updating your delivery address.
Also, look out for people acting suspiciously and team up with your neighbors to get them to report anything out of the ordinary or see if they have any security camera footage.
3. Look at package theft solutions
One easy way to thwart the porch pirates is by the use of package theft deterrent products or by hiding your package. These range from the basic to the bespoke.
At the basic level, you can replace a standard mailbox with one that locks or use a simple empty container with lid and padlock. Both of these will be good enough to hide the packages from the eyes of the opportunists.
Or there are more specific products available:-
The Porch Pod $239 (+$49 for solar battery pack) is a weather proof container with camera. Access is gained by scanning the tracking code of the parcel which is then validated using Porch Pod’s proprietary software – if correct the software opens the box. Itg and wifi enabled smart lock
CleverMade Parcel LockBox
The Parcel LockBox is a sturdy heavy duty steel box that can be anchored securely to the floor. It comes with a programmable digital lock, the code of which you register with delivery drivers and the mail service. It’s large enough to fit most parcels.
4. Enhance your security
Taking steps to increase your overall security should make your house a much less attractive proposition for the porch pirates There are many things you can do but we’ve listed some of the most effective below:-
Any sign that gives an indication there is a security system in place can have a psychological affect and may even put off a few people. They are an simple inexpensive option and available at Amazon
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Amongst the most popular package theft prevention security devices is the video doorbell. Popular options like the Ring or Nest are around $200.
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Most video doorbells offer the ability to speak to a delivery person through your phone no matter where in the world you are. This means that you can give them specific instructions on where to leave the package as well as get video evidence that the package was actually delivered. They also are equipped with motion detection that triggers video recording when someone enters the zone.
You can image a situation where someone tries to get a package after it has been left on your doorstep, the motion detection is set off and you get alerts to your phone and also video recordings.
Depending on the layout of your house you will also sometimes be able to pair it up with a smart lock. This would then able you to remotely open an outer door where the delivery person could drop off you package out of sight.
Some of the latest models such as the Nest Hello are even incorporating AI algorithms that are able to detect faces and perform package detection automatically.
Another effective deterrent is to install a security camera. Slightly more versatile than a video doorbell you can point it towards your doorstep and the area where your packages are likely to be left. Any footage obtained from the camera can also be shared with law enforcement agencies which may help them tie together evidence from several incidents.
There are a variety of battery powered and powered cameras available as well as fake units. The simple fact of something like a camera being visible can have the effect of making a porch pirate think twice before targeting your packages.
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If you get a camera that is easy to move like the Reolink Argus it is waterproof, has motion detection and sirens and you can move it around to different areas of your house to suit your needs
5. Make use of shipping companies apps
Packages going missing is equally frustrating for companies as it is for individuals. As more and more parcels are being delivered online the technology that the parcel companies offer to request signatures on delivery schedule, give instructions, change and track your package has increased to. as well as tips, like this article from Fed Ex on how to prevent stolen packages.
Fed Ex’s mobile app Delivery Manager offers package tracking. and allows you to electronically sign for a package. If you can’t be around you can put deliveries on hold at a Fed Ex location or put them on vacation or temporary hold if you know you are going to be away.
UPS offer similar features through their My Choice App where you can track your shipments online with ETAs for deliveries. You can also set up where and when you would like your packages to be delivered. You are able to give instructions to the delivery driver or again divert your package to a pickup location using the UPS Access Point network.
Other shipping companies also offer very similar options.
6. Get to know your delivery driver
A bit more difficult in the current world of contactless deliveries but it pays to get to know the delivery drivers. Normally, the same drivers cover the same routes so it’s a good idea to nurture the relationship. You’ll be able to come to an understanding about where things can be left and hopefully other beneficial arrangements.
7. Use click and collect or a drop off locker
If you know you’re not going to be in many retailers offer a click and collect service where you will be able to visit a local store like a supermarket and pick up your package.
Similarly, companies like Amazon are also offering services where your parcel gets dropped off at a drop off locker and you get sent a code that opens the locker if you are a member of their Prime service. The Amazon Hub locker service is an easy way of getting your parcels delivered safely and each country has lots of available locations.
8. Ask for plain packaging
This isn’t universal but certain retailers now offer the option of requesting that your package be delivered in different packaging. This is a great solution if you want to make sure no one knows that you are buying the latest product – instead it will be delivered in an innocuous looking package.