Preventing Parcel Theft: A Crime of Opportunity
If you frequently end up ordering things online, we’d be surprised to hear that you’ve never been visited by the ‘porch pirates’: in other words, petty thieves who steal packages left on your doorstep. Whether it’s somebody who is a habitual thief or a passerby who noticed the big red ‘FRAGILE’ mark on your package, it’s not uncommon to have packages stolen right off your doorstep, leaving you with just a lot of frustration and anger.
The question, then, is how can you prevent yourself from falling into package stolen scenarios again and again? Thankfully, we’re not here just here to sympathize with your pain (or this would have been a really short article).
Instead, below we’re going to be discussing some of the best tips and tricks to prevent thieves from stealing your packages, and we’re starting with the first and most basic trick:
Have Your Packages Delivered to a Safe Place
Stop having packages delivered to your doorstep. That might sound like a workaround to the problem, but in reality, that single trip is going to save you hundreds in the money you lose when a package gets stolen.
The best part is that most of the time, you won’t have to go to a lot of trouble either, since there are many ways to have your packages sent to a secure location. For example, you can choose any one of these:
- If you work at a commercial business building, you can have the package sent to the building, where it’s a safe bet there will be staff or a guard to receive and hold the package for you. It’s generally a good idea to notify security in advance if you’re doing this, though, since some guards are told to deny packages or don’t accept it if they haven’t been told beforehand.
- You can also provide a neighbor’s address. It generally pays to ensure that the neighbor will be home on the day that the package is expected so that they can receive and store the box for you until you’re home.
- Some retail sites also offer more secure ways to keep the packages they send you. For example, some retail sites have safe locker sites available in large cities, and while this does mean that you’ll have to drive to the locker to pick your package up, you won’t be losing the container because it was left on your doorstep. A fair trade, wouldn’t you say?
Provide Delivery Instructions to the Website or Carrier
Another quick and painless way to prevent package theft is to provide precise instructions to the retail website you’re ordering from (and the mail carrier if you’re ordering something that’s going to be posted). Take some time to think about how you can deter thieves from stealing your packages, but we’ve outlined some of the best tips that occurred to us here:
- If you have a bench or a column on your porch, provide instructions to put the package behind it so that it remains concealed from outside your property. As long as the box remains out of sight of the opportunistic thief, it’s more or less safe (unless the thief regularly climbs into your garden. In that case, you need the police).
- We already said this, but you can also leave instructions for the delivery man to deliver the package to a neighbor if you’re not home. Ask them (politely, please) to hand it over to a person instead of leaving it there, and unless your neighbor is the thief, they’ll hand it over the next time you’re home.
Require a Signature for Delivery
It’s not always an option, but many mail carriers and retail websites also allow you to ask the deliveryman to require a signature before completing the delivery. It could be you or a family member who signs for the package, but as long as it’s a trustworthy person signing for the package, this keeps the delivered goods off your front porch and out of the reach of potential thieves waiting for the right moment.
As we said, though, it’s not always an option, so if you can’t find the little box on the delivery menu that says ‘Ask for Signature,’ it’s wise to double-check with customer support and then come up with a different plan.
Talking of different plans, here’s one.
Post a Warning Sign
Believe it or not, the thieves stealing packages from your doorstep are often as scared of you as you are of them. A great (and almost free) way to keep thieves out of your property is to post visible warning signs that the location is under CCTV surveillance. You might be groaning and muttering that if you could afford CCTV, you’d already have gotten it, but what most people don’t realize is the best part about this tip:
You don’t actually need the surveillance. Even something as simple as a sign (and maybe a disconnected, second-hand camera you got from a pawn shop) is enough to convince most opportunistic thieves that your property is monitored and thus scare them off.
Don’t get a warning sign saying ‘beware of dogs,’ though. We saw many people doing that, and that’s rather hard to pull off if you don’t have… well, a dog!
Install a Parcel Delivery Box Near Your Front Door
Some companies are now building secure parcel delivery boxes that accept packages from several standard mail carriers. The boxes allow the packages to be put in, but the only key to open up the box to retrieve them rests with you, the owner. This way, the package is concealed inside a locked and weatherproof container and isn’t very visible once delivered to your house.
If you’re choosing this option, though, remember that you’ll have to fork out money for the secure parcel box.
These are good, handy tips for stopping your package stolen problems, but if we said a single one was enough to get a job done, we’d be the worst sort of liars. Instead, don’t take our word for it. Mix and match the different tips to see what works out for you, and implement the best standard of security practices possible to ensure that your packages are never stolen again.