Stolen Holiday Packages

A new form of crime continues to rise throughout the U.S.

Driven by the growth of online shopping, package theft is reaching epidemic proportions. Millions of Americans have reported a package being stolen from their mailbox or front porch.

If this has ever happened to you, find comfort in knowing you are not alone. Below are 10 facts about package theft that should alarm online shoppers.

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1. 36% of Americans have reported a package being stolen at least once.

2. According to August Home and Edelman Intelligence, 11 million homeowners reported a stolen package last year.

3. Package theft victims had an average of 2-3 packages stolen last year.

4. The average value of a stolen package was $140.

5. 75% of the victims received a full refund for their stolen items. The remainder spent an average of $100 out of pocket to replace the items.

6. There is an average of 17 package theft incidents per 1,000 people in larger metro areas.

7. 74% of package theft occurs during the day when the owner is at work.

8. Police make arrests in less than 10% of reported package theft cases.

9. During a six month period in 2019, Clutch found 51% of online shoppers didn’t receive their ordered packages.

10. The top 10 cities for package theft are

  • San Francisco, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Oakland, California
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Sacramento, California

If those statistics aren’t bad enough, the numbers jump up significantly during the holiday season. In 2016, UPS and FedEx delivered over 1 billion packages worldwide between Black Friday and Christmas Day. That year, 25.9 million Americans (8%) reported a package stolen during the holiday. This was an increase of 2.4 million stolen holiday packages from the previous year. And, we continue to see an increase of this proportion every year since.

Online shopping and home delivery services are predicted to grow rapidly until 2025. Led by e-commerce giants, like Amazon and Walmart, more and more people are opting to buy online versus in-store. This same increase in deliveries means more packages will inevitably be stolen before they make it to their rightful owners.

The majority of the current package delivery practices make it easy for porch pirates. Packages frequently sit in plain sight on front porches while people are away from home. And, many retailers and carrier services aren’t responsible for packages after they’ve been delivered.

It’s no surprise package theft is on the rise.

Preventing Package Theft

So, what can you do to prevent becoming a victim of package theft? Is there any way to avoid it?

Well… yes and no.

It’s going to take reshaping regulations and delivery methods to put a stop to package theft. However, there are things you can do to be proactive in preventing your booty (as in treasure, not the other booty) from getting pirated away.

Here are some ways to ensure your packages make their way safely into your possession.

1. Have your packages shipped to your workplace

A good portion of the average American’s day is spent at work, leaving his or her packages left defenseless on the front porch. People rarely take advantage of having packages delivered to their workplace (only 5% of the population according to a study), but this is one of the easiest ways to ensure your packages make their way to you.

2. Give the carrier instructions to conceal the package

Provide instructions for your merchant or carrier to leave packages where they won’t be an easy target. If you have a bush, cubbyhole, or any good “hiding spot” around your house, request the carriers drop your packages there. You can typically provide special, delivery instructions during most online checkout processes.

3. Request discreet package wrapping

Sometimes, it’s the packaging that attracts porch pirates to your front porch. Thieves are more likely to steal your package when its content can be easily identified by the package shape or a lack of shipment packaging (some merchants put the shipping labels directly on the product box). Especially when ordering expensive and easy to identify items, request discreet packaging for your orders.

4. Schedule packages to be delivered when you are home

Most major carriers give you the option to schedule when packages should be delivered. If there are specific times you will be home, schedule your packages to be delivered then.

5. Put up signs to discourage theft

Place one or more signs in highly visible locations on your property that announce your residence is under 24-hour surveillance. Whether it’s true or not, this deterrent can be very effective.

6. Request a delivery signature

To prevent your packages (especially expensive ones) from being dropped off at your home when you’re not there, opt for a delivery signature requirement. This means your package won’t be delivered unless someone authorized can sign for it.

7. Insure your packages

In some cases, you may want to have insurance added to your packages. This ensures you will be fully compensated for the package if it is ever stolen or damaged.

8. Install a dropbox

Drop boxes are a great way to protect your packages. These storage containers allow carriers to put packages in them and prevent anyone but yourself from taking them out. An added bonus of the dropbox is it also protects packages from inclement weather.

9. Get Amazon Key and have packages delivered inside your home

Being the largest online vendor and shipping more than 600 million packages a year, Amazon proactively offers a few options to help protect your Amazon orders from theft.

One of these options is the Amazon Key. In order to use it, the Amazon key requires you to install an in-home camera and a smart lock for your front door.

The Key system allows Amazon drivers to enter your home through the use of an app, but only when they have a package for you. The system also allows you to remotely unlock or lock your door through an app, get alerts when anyone enters your home, and even watch them through the camera’s feed.

10. Sign up for Amazon In-Car delivery

The Amazon In-Car delivery is nearly identical to the Amazon Key service. With this option, however, the package is delivered in your car. It’s a great alternative if you don’t want to make changes to your home or provide anyone access.

11. Use Amazon Locker

Amazon offers self-service kiosk lockers at its Amazon Hub locker locations. These lockers provide a safe alternative to having a package left on your front porch. There are typically multiple locker hubs available in an area to make it convenient to pick up a package or return one.

12. Open a dropbox at a UPS Store and have packages delivered there

UPS also offers dropbox services. With 24/7 access and extended pickup and shipping hours, their dropboxes are extremely convenient when using UPS services.

13. Check to see if your community has a package delivery house

Some communities have started package delivery houses to help deal with package theft. This is a residence where someone is usually home to receive deliveries on behalf of their neighbors. Find out if this is an option available to you.

14. Install a security camera

The simple fact of having a visible security camera near your front door or porch can often be enough to keep porch pirates from venturing onto your property. If you invest in a motion-detecting, wifi-enabled camera, you will also be able to keep track of your front door from your cell phone. Products, like Ring, provide an electronic doorbell and video monitoring system. all-in-one If a package is ever stolen, the video footage will be a valuable aid for the police and beneficial when filing reimbursement claims with the delivery carrier.

15. Install a motion-activated spotlight

A motion-activated spotlight can help scare away nighttime bandits attempting to steal your package after dark. Bonus: Works for critters, too.

16. If all else fails, try a NASA engineered glitter bomb

A NASA engineer became fed up after having packages stolen while he was at work. As a form of revenge, he engineered a special parcel package intended to reak havoc on his package thieves.

The engineered package was rigged to video record thieves stealing when it was stolen. Best of all, it would shower them with a pound of “the world’s finest glitter” and commence dispensing 5 sprays of a fart aerosol every 30 seconds.

Watch the video below to see it in action.

Steps to Take When a Delivered Package isn’t on your front Porch

You’ve received a delivery notification and come home expecting to find a package on your porch. If it’s not there, try the following steps to recover it.

1. Check the package’s tracking status

In some cases, packages are assigned a delivery status by accident when the package is still en route. Check the carrier’s tracking site to see if this is the case.

If you live in a residence or work for a business using package tracking software for logging and tracking packages, check with the staff for additional tracking details.

If the carrier’s tracking information shows the package as delivered, look for the name and signature of the person who signed it. Knowing this will be a good starting point towards locating your package.

2. Check with your neighbors

Carrier drivers are quick to leave packages with neighbors. Check with others that live on your street to see if they accepted a package on your behalf.

3. Contact the seller

If you still can’t locate the package, contact the seller/retailer and let them know what’s happened. Vendors may be able to access additional tracking information that is not available to you. If they can’t successfully track the package down for you, they may issue a refund or replacement.

4. File an insurance claim with the carrier (FedEx, UPS, USPS, Amazon, etc.)

Check with the carrier that supposedly delivered your package to see if they have any further information on your package. Sometimes, packages are marked as delivered but have been left on the delivery truck or in a warehouse.

5. If you paid by credit card, check to see if you have purchase protection

The majority of credit cards come with a complimentary purchase protection plan. In many cases, your credit card company may issue you a refund for your lost or stolen packages.

6. File a police report

Always file a report. While it may not result in a conviction, your report matters. The more reports they receive, the more motivated police and politicians will be about taking steps to prevent package theft.


So there you have it. Yes, package theft is at an all-time high, especially as we roll well into the age of online shopping versus in-store shopping.

With online shopping on the rise and both companies and delivery services taking no responsibility for packages after delivery, you can bet porch pirates are going to be around for quite some time.

But don’t let them get the best of you. If you adopt one or more of the tips mentioned above, package theft will be much less of a worry for you. Now if only we could find a way to get delivery drivers to stop crushing our packages…



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