The internet is rife with blog posts and articles discussing the realities of porch piracy. Do a quick Google search and you can find tons of statistics. You can learn about how many packages are stolen in a given day, the value of those packages, and even some of the tricks of the trade utilized by porch pirates. You will not find much in terms of practical application.
Statistics are interesting. Real stories about how porch pirates got away with thousands of dollars in merchandise make for good headlines. But you and I need to know how to deal with porch piracy at the practical level. What do we do if a package goes missing? How do we report a crime? How do we prevent porch piracy?
You can read a fantastic blog post on the Vivint website discussing this very topic in detail. Vivint Smart Home is a nationally known provider of home security and automation equipment. This post will not follow their paragraph-for-paragraph, but it will highlight some of the most important points.
When a Package Goes Missing
For many of us, our first exposure to porch piracy is a package that goes missing. You arrive home from work expecting to find a package on your screened in porch. But when you get there, you don’t find anything. Have you been victimized? Maybe. But then again, maybe not.
Experts suggest to start by looking around to see if it actually is missing. Perhaps the delivery driver put it somewhere else for safekeeping. Take a few minutes to:
- Look around, including underneath and behind porch furniture.
- Check your mail box. Sometimes delivery drivers put smaller packages in mail boxes for safekeeping.
- Look in other places; including the garage or your detached tool shed. Look behind flowerpots, the trashcan, etc.
- Check with your neighbors. It is not unusual for delivery drivers to leave packages at the wrong house.
The fact that an expected package isn’t in the expected location doesn’t necessarily mean that porch pirates have paid you a visit. It could be a simple misunderstanding between you and the delivery driver.
Try to Track the Package
Some delivery services now send customers emails or text messages to let them know packages have been delivered. Those alerts can be delayed for up to several hours in some cases. And of course, not all delivery services send alerts.
Either way, try to track the package in question before you assume it has been stolen. Retailers almost always provide tracking numbers that you can search online. You just need the number and the name of the company tasked with delivering your package.
You can easily track packages from UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, and others. Package tracking lets you know exactly where your package is at any given time. Just know that, like carrier alerts, tracking information can be delayed.
If a Package Has Actually Been Stolen
Let us say you check around and don’t find your package anywhere. You run the tracking number and learn that it was delivered. You need to face the reality that the package was probably stolen. Now what?
At the very least, report the theft to the police and your insurance company. Be prepared that the police may take some time to respond. They may also choose to take a report over the phone. Porch piracy isn’t a high priority issue for them.
The reason for contacting the police is simple: you will need to file an official report with them before your insurance company will pay your claim. Get that report and send a copy to your insurance company.
If You Have Video Cameras
Video cameras can be a tremendous help in these sorts of situations. If you have a doorbell camera or an exterior surveillance camera pointed at the front door, check to see if any video was recorded. You might get lucky enough to have surveillance footage that police can use to track down the perpetrator.
As a side note, combating porch piracy is one of the many reasons people invest in video doorbells. A video doorbell with built-in audio acts as a pretty good deterrent to porch pirates approaching your house.
Making this work requires setting up your video doorbell to send you an alert as soon as the camera is activated. You can then use your phone to watch live video and communicate with the person in real time. A porch pirate will have no idea whether you are standing on the other side of the door. They are likely to walk away rather than take a chance.
Preventing Porch Piracy
You have learned how to deal with potential porch piracy issues after they occur. Now let us talk about preventing them altogether. Wouldn’t it be better to stop porch pirates in their tracks, before they take your packages? Absolutely.
Preventing porch piracy is a matter of offering delivery companies another way to leave your packages. You have plenty of options:
- Package Safe – A package safe is a weatherproof safe you secure in place with a few bolts. You provide a one-time PIN code the delivery driver can use to open the safe and leave packages.
- Remote Locker – Some delivery companies are now offering delivery to remote lockers. You choose the locker option when you place an order, then wait for an email to tell you your package has arrived. You go pick it up.
- The Garage – With a smart garage door opener and a phone app, you can make it possible for delivery companies to leave packages in the garage.
- A Neighbor – A less tech-savvy solution is to make arrangements to have packages delivered to a neighbor. Maybe you work opposite shifts. They accept packages when you are not home and vice-versa.
Porch piracy is a normal part of modern life. There is no getting away from it. However, knowing how to respond at a practical level goes a long way toward dealing with porch piracy without losing your mind. Now you know how.