What more online shopping during pandemic means for ‘porch pirates’

(Getty Images/iStockphoto/WoodysPhotos)
Almost one in five Americans have had a package stolen from their porch or doorstep, according to a recent survey. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/WoodysPhotos)

More people are ordering packages and groceries online during the COVID-19 pandemic, but according to a recent survey, “porch pirates” are also waiting for those packages to arrive.

Almost one in five Americans have had a package stolen from their porch or doorstep, according to the recent “Porch Pirates in the Age of COVID-19” report by insurancequotes.com.

“Every time a package hits your doorstep, that’s an opportunity for someone with bad intention to come out and steal it,” said Michael Giusti, senior writer and analyst of the report.

The numbers, he said, should be a warning to those ordering more online these days.

“That shows that there’s a problem that needs to be addressed,” Giusti added.

Scott White, director of the cybersecurity program at George Washington University, said online shoppers need to have a plan.

Have a neighbor watch for a package if you’re not going to be home, he said, or see if your local police department will let you ship it to a station for safety, and have a camera in place if you don’t already.

“Just be situationally aware and you’re going to beat this criminal every time, because they’re not a sophisticated criminal,” White said. “It’s not a very sophisticated criminal enterprise, but the return on that investment can be quite high because of what is now being delivered.”
According to the survey, 18% of people living in cities and 16% living outside of cities said they have had a package stolen from their porch.
Nearly half of survey respondents — 47% — said that all or most of their holiday shopping will be done via online delivery this year. And 7% of Americans said they have had a delivered package stolen just since pandemic-related restrictions began in March.
“We all went into lockdown, and what do you do in lockdown but jump on your phone and see what you can order online?” Giusti said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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