How to prevent ‘porch pirates’ from pilfering holiday packages from your front stoop

According to findings from a Wakefield Research poll for Comcast, 3 in 10 Americans who live in houses or townhomes have been victims of package theft, with 53% of Americans knowing someone who had a package stolen from outside their home.

Sterling Morris, owner of Preventpackagetheft.com, said there are steps homeowners can take to help avoid becoming a porch pirate’s next victim.

“A lot of times porch pirates are acting on impulse,” Morris said. “It’s a crime of opportunity and they might see your package from the street and kind of make an impulse decision to take that package so anything you can do to conceal the package helps.”

He said while ordering a package there’s an opportunity online to add a note for the person delivering your orders.

In this note, Morris said it’s important to instruct the delivery person to put the package where it might not be seen by potential thieves.

‘Without having to spend any money you can ask these professionals to hide your package behind columns and maybe to put the package on the side of the house where it’s less visible,” Morris said.

If you’re looking to step up the security of your packages you can purchase a video doorbell.

These doorbells range in price and notify your phone when someone’s at the door, catching people stealing packages on video. In addition to the doorbell, homeowners can post a sign that say the premises is under surveillance.

“It’s a deterrent,” Morris said. “People see that a camera is in place and we’ve seen several videos online of would be porch pirates seeing a video camera and turning around and deciding not to take packages.”

Another option is to purchase a “package guard.” When the circle-shaped device is put on the doorstep, the delivery person is instructed to put the package on the package guard. The service then sends a notification to homeowners on their phone if the package is removed, as well as make noise for neighbors to hear.

“It’s definitely a pretty easy deterrent,” said Morris. “You place it right on your doorstep and hopefully that sound scares away would be package thieves.”

There are also porch bags and boxes that can be purchased and are secured to the home or stoop. The delivery person is then asked to lock the bag or box and remains locked until you come home to retrieve your order.

Amazon Key is another option for those wanting the packages placed inside their homes.

“Amazon key allows online shoppers to give or grant delivery professionals temporary access to their home,” Morris said. “They’re able to unlock the door just once and place a package inside your home and they immediately shut the door and go on to the next delivery.”

If you’re wary of someone being in your home, or you’d rather not have packages delivered to your house at all, there are options for that too.

One option is Amazon Locker for those in Metro areas and another is your place of work, if that’s allowed.

“We recommend checking with your human resources department and ensure that it’s okay and compliant for you to ship your packages to work,” Morris said. “If that’s okay, that’s convenient for a lot of online shoppers. It comes right to your place of work and you can take it home with you. It’s also a nice way to conceal some of those presents that you might be purchasing for loved ones or for friends.”

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report. 

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