Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in December 2020 and has been revised to reflect industry updates.
The holiday shopping season ushers in an online gift-purchasing blizzard of countless gifts delivered to the front doors and porches of homes across America. Unfortunately, this also invites many unwelcome visitors looking to scoop up those presents for themselves.
Thefts by these so-called "porch pirates" have been on the rise. such perpetrators keep watch in residential neighborhoods, hoping to steal delivered packages from front porches and doorsteps.
According to the “2021 Package Theft Statistics Report,” conducted by market insights agency C+R Research, more than 23 percent of those surveyed experienced front-porch package thefts in the last year. The same data reported 40 percent of respondents added theft-deterrent devices, such as front door and doorbell cameras, and motion sensors.
To combat this unfortunate and unsavory crime, it’s important to keep delivery areas clear, prominently display stickers and yard signs, set up alternate delivery methods, and more.
Here are 10 tips on protecting your home and property from these delivery bandits this holiday season.
1. Install Front Door & Doorbell Security Cameras
These are any homeowner’s best defenses from front-porch package thefts, break-ins, and intrusions. When installed and strategically placed, front door and doorbell cameras can help law enforcement identify thieves.
Camera placement should be directly above your home’s front door. However, any reputable services provider, such as General Security, will advise camera installation between eight and 10 feet from the ground. This deters device tampering and vandalism.
When choosing a camera, General Security offers many feature-rich models. These include:
2. Consider Smart Technologies
With Real-Time Alerts
This additional protective layer differentiates between humans, animals and vehicles, and indicates what should be recorded or ignored.Video management software prevents false notifications due to weather conditions and loud noises. It also measures real-time, front-porch activity movement.
This activates record only upon detected movement—eliminating unusable, storage- and energy-eating footage and prolonging battery life.
Remote Video Monitoring
This Alarm.com-based alert system automatically notifies users of movement or motion. It’s recommended to work with a services provider dispatching direct connections to local law enforcement agencies via 24/7 Central Station Monitoring.
Built-in microphones, speakers, and Wi-Fi provide real-time communication to thwart unsuspecting intruders and thieves.
Smart Locks & Garage Door Openers
Smart locks can be automatically programmed so delivery personnel can safely leave packages at front entrances, vestibules, or garages. Simply provide a one-time personalized code, or remotely unlock/lock front doors and garages from a smart device for safe delivery and storage.
More than 23 percent of those surveyed experienced front-porch package thefts in the last year.
3. Prominently Display Stickers & Yard Signs
Professional security company General Security will provide stickers and yard signs with the following “Premises Protected by General Security” or “Property Is Under 24-Hour Video Surveillance.”
Even if cameras aren’t visible, these warnings will help deter intruders.
4. Keep Porch Areas Clear
Avoid placing decorations, planters, furniture, tools, and other items on and around front porches. These obstructions and other barriers can present challenges when viewing still images and video footage.
5. Add Virtual Tripwires via Video Analytics
Cameras with accompanying smart technologies such as video analytics can deploy virtual tripwires—activating lights, alarms, and other deterrents when user-controlled zones are entered. Alarm.com Perimeter Guard is one such system.
6. Enlist a Neighbor for Help
Ask a trusted neighbor to watch for deliveries, and notify them of real-time, mobile device alerts. Packages can then be retrieved for safekeeping until you arrive home.
7. Include Package Delivery Instructions
If you live in a private home, include information such as: “Leave packages by the side door” or “Place deliveries on the back deck,” as examples. You can also request an authorized signature requiring delivery personnel to return until signed.
While the best defense is smart security technology, these recommendations can ensure packages aren’t low-hanging fruit for potential thieves.
8. Purchase Supplemental Insurance Coverage
If your package is worth less than $100, any theft or losses should be reimbursed by the shipping company. For big-ticket items, supplemental insurance covers theft, loss, and other damages.
9. Have Packages Delivered to
Your Place of Business
With most deliveries occurring during business hours, consider sending packages to your office or job site. You’ll have added peace of mind, especially if the location features security cameras and other safeguarding measures.
10. Invest in a Lockbox or Porch Pirate Bag
Consider swapping a mailbox for a U.S. Postal Service-approved lockbox. These feature mail slots for mail and small packages, and one-time access codes for larger items.
Porch pirate bags are also gaining popularity. These large, heavy-duty, reinforced sacks lock to your front door or mailbox and are weather- and cut-proof—securing your packages with personalized access codes to help thwart would-be thefts.
Taking Precautions & Staying Safe
Whether you will be home or away this holiday season, consider safeguarding your house and property from package thefts through the aforementioned security tools and smart technologies.