It’s the time to give and the time to start shopping for items on your Christmas list if you haven’t yet. And, if you’re like a vast majority of Americans today, your shopping will be done online. Additionally, while there is a convenience to purchasing goods online, it can come with a risk, and that risk happens whenever you receive a package at your front door.
Porch pirates, or criminals who steal packages from the homes of unsuspecting homeowners, increase their activity around the holiday season. Of course, package theft can happen at any time of the year, but the winter months are a hot spot for it.
Why is this? Because deals like Black Friday and Cyber Monday cause a rise in retail purchases around this time of year. Not to mention, retailers hold a variety of deals online for the Christmas season. Therefore, a greater volume of unattended packages will sit outside of a homeowner’s home for a prolonged period of time.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to give up online shopping for good. You just have to take proactive steps to prevent becoming a victim of package theft.
Here’s how you can deter porch pirates from stealing your goods:
1. Ask the carrier to have the package sent to their local office.
Carriers such as, USPS, FedEx, and UPS all offer hold options for packages. However, be sure to call ahead of time or visit your carrier’s local store, so your delivery can be held. When you have a package being held, the carrier will place a note in your mailbox to inform you the package is available to pick up. Additionally, you can also opt in to receive calls about your package.
Many pick ups will also require some sort of identification to ensure the package is being given to the correct person, so be sure to bring that with you.
2. Ship the items to a trusted person you know.
If you cannot make it to a carrier’s store during the week for a package pickup, consider having your goods delivered to a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member who will be around for the pick up.
3. Have packages delivered to your place of work.
If your employer is okay with it, consider having any packages shipped to the office.This way the package will make it to a safe location and you’ll be around to receive it.
4. Opt to ship to store during checkout.
Some online retailers offer the option to ship the item you purchased to their physical store locations at no charge to you. Typically shipping to the store takes less time than shipping to your house, and because the item will already be paid for, you won’t have to wait in a long checkout line to purchase it. You will most likely need to bring proof of purchase such as a receipt with you, but again this is a great way to safely have the item delivered to you.
5. Take extra precautions.
First, if available take extra precautions when receiving or shipping a package. If you can, opt for gift packaging every time you check out. This will conceal the contents of the package and possibly deter porch pirates from stealing expensive goods.
Secondly, consider requesting that your package require a signature upon delivery. This may be a bit of an inconvenience as you do have to be there to receive the item, however, this way your package won’t be sitting out in the open for a porch pirate to grab. Once a parcel carrier has dropped the item off at its destination, they cannot control if it gets into the wrong hands.
6. Consider adding extra home security.
Something like a lock box or a special device like the Package Guard can safely store your packages while you’re not home. Additionally, a security system with cameras can help, and alarms that have outdoor sensors or sirens can scare away thieves before they even set foot in your driveway or front porch.
These items can be expensive, however they truly provide security and a place for your carrier to safely store your items until you get home.
What to do in the event your package is stolen.
If the unfortunate does happen, there are ways you can recover from this incident. First, contact your local police, this way they can be on the lookout for for any suspicious activity and alert homeowners of theft in their area. Secondly, call the carrier that delivered your package and file a claim.
In the event you were expecting a package and it never arrived you can file a theft claim with the parcel carrier. Most major carriers will work to locate the package and if they’re unsuccessful will reimburse you for the loss.
Finally, remember that no matter what online retailer you’re purchasing items from, always take precaution with how it will arrive. Keep your gifts safe and be on the lookout for suspicious activity this year!