Porch pirates: How to prevent package theft

Posted March 28th, 2022 by SimpliSafe

What is a porch pirate?

Simply put, a porch pirate is a thief that targets unattended packages left outside a person’s home or business. Unfortunately, as online shopping and home delivery become more ingrained in our society, package theft is also becoming increasingly common. 

As a matter of fact, a study published in November 2021 by Security.org found that in the year leading up to study, 19% of Americans had at least one package stolen. Part of the increase was likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic spurring more people to have packages delivered versus picking them up at the store.

While always a nuisance, package theft can be particularly devastating in some circumstances. For example, imagine a porch pirate targeting a package containing critical medication from an online pharmacy, or a one of a kind heirloom left delivered through the mail? Package theft is not always a minor inconvenience.

So, how do you prevent these porch pirates from robbing you of your important packages?

1. Schedule your delivery at a time you’ll be home

Some online stores will give you an estimated arrival date of your package, but others let you more or less choose when the delivery will arrive. If you know when you’ll be home to receive a package, then schedule the delivery on that day. Scheduling the timing of a delivery isn’t always possible, of course, but for those who work from home or have some flexibility, this is often your best bet to avoid porch pirates.

2. Ship elsewhere

Is there somewhere else you can have your package sent? Maybe you’re not home all day to wait around for a package, so it’s too risky to have it delivered to your residence. Instead, consider having packages delivered to your office or possibly sent to a friend or a neighbor that’s home more often than you. The post office or UPS can also sometimes accept deliveries on your behalf. It might also be a good idea to alert people in your life who occasionally send you packages that they should send to a different address.

3. Talk to a neighbor

Neighbors are invaluable for many reasons, but when it comes to preventing porch pirates from snatching your goods, a vigilant neighbor can be your best friend. Ask your neighbor if you could perhaps help each other out with monitoring deliveries and taking them inside for one another when the other person isn’t home. 

It might also be a good idea to participate in online communities in your area to find out if/where thefts are happening, what’s being done about them, and how to go about reporting a theft.

And, if package theft is an issue—or becoming an issue—in your neighborhood, then there might be a chance your neighbor(s) already have an outdoor security camera that will provide a good view of your front porch.

4. Update your delivery settings

If you think you’re going to be home to receive a package but plans changed, or you can’t control the delivery date and you know you’re not going to be available, you can typically update your delivery settings. This might involve you creating an account, looking up the tracking number, and following the instructions to put the package on hold or change the delivery date/time.

Sometimes, you can also ask to sign for the package, which means the delivery service won’t be able to leave it at your door unless someone is there to bring it inside. 

Some shipping companies allow you to make special requests for delivery. With this option, you might be able to provide instructions to your delivery person to leave the package in a well obscured location that’s not visible from the street, or to take a picture upon delivery so you’ll know when it gets there.

5. Get to know the delivery person

Another way to help prevent package theft is to get to know the delivery person in your community. If you’ve been living in the same place for a while and you’re often home during the day, you might start to notice patterns of delivery timing around the block, and begin to recognize the people making those deliveries. 

So, talk to the delivery person in your neighborhood and ask them if it’s okay—if no one is home—to leave the package elsewhere (and, let them know where!). If you don’t have time to talk to the delivery person but you find them to be reliable, you can always leave a note on your door with specific instructions, too. 

6. Get a home security system

All the above methods are good strategies for mitigating package theft, but nothing is ever guaranteed. One thing that is effective—not just at deterring package theft, but catching any porch pirates in the act—is a strategically placed home security camera

While it’s important to note that this isn’t a full-proof method, in general, porch pirates tend to go elsewhere if they know a property is being monitored by a home security system with cameras.  

With SimpliSafe, you can install a doorbell camera and/or a camera on the front porch to monitor package deliveries and any potential theft, which you can report to the authorities. But, the good news is, a well configured security system is often enough to keep potential porch pirates away from your anticipated package.

Interested in learning more about SimpliSafe? Find the right system for your situation or visit our shop to get started.