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7 Ways to Prevent Your Packages From Being Stolen

by on July 21, 2020
in Home Safety & Security, Health and Home, Tips & How-Tos, Shopping :: 9 comments

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With many of us trying to limit our face-to-face interactions, we're taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping. But buying online opens us up to a big risk: package theft. Packages may sit on the front porch all day while we're at work or days at a time if we're on vacation, which gives thieves plenty of time to snag them. And if a package is stolen, you may not have much recourse. Neither retailers nor delivery companies are responsible for packages after they've been dropped off, and may or may not offer to replace the product. While you can (and should) file a police report for stolen items, that usually won't get your items back.

Instead, let's talk about how to avoid having your packages stolen in the first place.

1. Schedule deliveries with the shipping company

It can be hard to tell when your packages will show up, which makes it difficult to be at home to accept delivery. Fortunately, you can set up notifications with delivery services that will let you know exactly when your package will arrive and reschedule it or have it held for pickup.

Notifications are free, but sometimes rescheduling a package will cost you a fee. Sign up for notifications from UPS, FedEx or USPS to see your alternate delivery options. FedEx will also let you select a nearby Walgreens for delivery (there are 8,000 nationwide and many are open 24 hours), where you can pick up the package. 

2. Add delivery instructions to keep packages off the front porch

In some cases, you can add extra delivery instructions to your order. You could ask them to leave items by a side door where they won't be easily spotted by thieves. Look for a "delivery instructions" option when you're entering shipping information, then add any details that can help secure your package.

3. Have packages left inside your garage with Amazon Key

It doesn't get any more convenient than Amazon Key, which lets delivery staff open your garage door and leave your package inside. When you get home, your items are waiting for you, safe and sound.

That may sound like a big security risk, but Amazon offers a number of features to make sure your home and your packages are safe. For in home delivery, here's what happens:

  1. Before your driver arrives, you'll receive an alert with an expected delivery window 
  2. When the driver arrives, they'll send a request to Amazon open your garage door
  3. Amazon verifies that the driver has your package is at your address
  4. Amazon notifies you that your package is being delivered 
  5. Amazon opens your garage door, without providing the driver with a keycode
  6. The driver puts the package just inside your garage
  7. The driver tells Amazon to close your garage
  8. Amazon lets you know that the package has been delivered and that your garage door is securely closed.

Amazon can record the delivery using a connected camera — which you can watch live or later. That should give you peace of mind that your home is completely secure.

You'll need a myQ Smart Garage Hub ($39.98 on MyQ, check price on Amazon), which works with your existing garage door opener. If you already have a myQ account, you just need to connect it with your Amazon account and you'll be ready to go. If you want visual confirmation that your package has been delivered, you can purchase the Key by Amazon in-Garage Delivery Bundle for $97.48 on Amazon.

4. Completely customize your delivery options with TaskRabbit

If you don't want to brave the mall, someone else can always do it for you. TaskRabbit can pick up items from just about anywhere and bring them straight to you.

Simply go to TaskRabbit, describe what you need to be done, and then select a Tasker from a list of qualified individuals. You'll pay for services by the hour, and the rate varies depending on the Tasker you select. That can be pricier than other options, but TaskRabbit lets you customize exactly how and when you'll receive a delivery — something you won't get from other services.

5. Watch for deliveries and package thieves with a video doorbell

Though a video doorbell can't stop a thief from stealing a package, it can act as a deterrent. When the delivery person rings the bell, you can speak with him or her and instruct the person as to where to leave the package. And, like a security camera, video doorbells are motion activated and will capture video of anyone approaching your front door. So if a person doesn't ring the bell and steals your package, you'll have a video of the thief to give to the police.

Getting a video doorbell is an upfront expense, and requires installation. After your camera is set up, it may require a subscription for cloud recording, which will add up. Think of a video doorbell as an investment in home security instead of a simple package tracker.

We recommend the Ring Video Doorbell (Gen 2) ($99.99 on Ring, check price on Amazon) or the Peephole Cam ($129.99 on Ring, check price on Amazon), which installs through your door peephole.

6. Pick an alternate delivery location

The easiest way to avoid package theft is simply not to have packages left on your porch in the first place. Having it delivered to an alternate location where someone is available to accept it on delivery is a safe and often free way to avoid package theft. Consider delivering your package to:

  • A local relative or trusted neighbor who will be home to pick it up when it arrives
  • Your office, where there's probably always someone on-hand to accept delivery
  • A P.O. box or UPS mailbox, though be aware that these have a monthly rental cost and not all PO boxes will accept packages — find out before you rent!

If you're shopping from Amazon, however, there's another option: Amazon Locker. These Amazon-branded lockers are available in more than 900 cities, and Amazon can deliver packages directly to a locker rather than to your door. Here's how it works:

  1. Search for a locker location near you on Amazon's Locker page or when selecting shipping options at checkout
  2. Select the locker you want
  3. Complete checkout as normal
  4. When your package is delivered, Amazon will email you a 6-digit code to access your locker
  5. Pick up your package from the locker within three days to avoid it being returned

7. Opt for curbside pickup at a local store

Practically every retailer with physical stores will let you to pick up purchases curbside at your local store rather than have it delivered to you. This can be a really convenient option, particularly for big retailers like Best Buy, Target, Home Depot and Walmart which have locations everywhere (Walmart will also let you pick up at select FedEx locations). As a bonus, there's usually no fee for curbside pickup.

When you're checking out, just look for the in-store pickup shipping option and select the store nearest you. If the item is in stock, you can usually pick it up on the same day. When your order is ready, head to the store, confirm your pickup, and someone will put your purchases in your trunk.

Updated on 7/21/2020 with new delivery options

[Image credit: package on doorstep via BigStockPhoto]

Elizabeth Harper is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering consumer technology and entertainment. In addition to writing for Techlicious, she's Editorial Director of Blizzard Watch and is published on sites all over the web including Time, CBS, Engadget, The Daily Dot and DealNews.


Discussion loading

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Get a mailbox at the post office

From tom walters on December 12, 2018 :: 5:21 pm

My post office accepts UPS and Fed-x delivery
and (if they won’t fit in your regular mailbox)
put the package in a larger box and put the key in your mailbox.

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Ring or Knock

From Nancy McKay on December 12, 2018 :: 6:22 pm

Trying to get a delivery person to ring or knock on your door is another task.

One of the conveniences of Amazon is delivery - having to go to a locker is like going to a store anyway.  Deliver it or I’ll just go shopping.

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Locker or shopper

From Bruce on November 22, 2019 :: 10:17 pm

“having to go to a locker is like going to a store anyway.”
Except you know that your delivery will be at the locker. You’re not always sure you’ll find what you want at the store, unless you call ahead, and get them to hold it until you can get there (some places won’t hold for more than an hour, past closing, or 24 hours, depending on the store).

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Amazon then and now

From Nettrick Nowan on July 08, 2019 :: 12:24 pm

In the early days, if Amazon told me something was going to be delivered it was. I would schedule my time to make sure I’d be here. Now, I’ve got about 60/40 chance of getting items delivered when they say. I take one day off to make sure of delivery and then get an email saying delivery won’t take place until the next day. I can work with their delivery dates, they just can’t be accurate. Amazon has gotten much too big and has lost their touch.

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Amazon delivery

From masterredfox on July 22, 2020 :: 3:27 pm

I am currently having problems with deliveries from Amazon, along with other carriers. I just got off the phone with Amazon logistics to try and solve this problem. I wish this author would do a followup article on this subject to address the problem faced by all carriers with their delivery persons. With the big use of the Ring doorbell camera, one does not have to be home to see what happens at the door. Every carrier does allow delivery instructions to be added for your packages, which with today’s technology comes up for each address per package. What has happened is a lack of emphasis given to the driver to read all instructions carefully. Maybe some areas do it better than others. I have figured it out that most of my delivery packages, no matter the carrier, come out of one main depot in my area. I am hoping between my constant complaints and the shipper’s feedback that we can solve this problem. I purposedly told Amazon today, I don’t want the driver’s job affected, I want the information made available and emphasized the importance of reading the instructions. I would rather wait for delivery made properly than empathize on the speed of delivery.  Nor should I have to leave my house to pick up a delivery. I pay a yearly Prime Fee for delivery charges, even with the increases and I choose the Amazon delivery day for my area to ensure a delivery period time. I know exactly when any carrier delivers in my area based on their route from the depot. All we are asking is for correct delivery.

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USPS notices by e-mail

From Karyl Ronka on October 29, 2019 :: 1:02 pm

I LOVE the USPS Informed Delivery service! Go to USPS.com and sign up for “Informed Delivery”. Every day that mail is to be delivered to your address you will get an e-mail at about 8 AM that includes a photo of each piece of flat mail, and a notice about possible packages. This enables you to alert someone to pick it up if you can’t. This has fixed problems several times. Also, if you don’t get a piece that was promised, you can notify the PO. Check It Out!
Plus, there’s a whole bunch of services you can do online instead of standing in line at the PO!

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Informed delivery via USPS

From masterredfox on July 22, 2020 :: 3:08 pm

It took me many years to get this “service” and I am still waiting for that daily email that will tell me what mail to expect. I can check for packages scheduled for delivery if I post the tracking number manually but I still don’t get the full service. I have found it all depends on your specific area. I live in what is classified as an urban setting and it all depends on whether the delivery mailperson scans all mail scheduled for delivery that specific day. They are using mainly clerks classified as temps, which means they may are assigned to a route on a daily basis and may not do the same route. But they are on a timed delivery schedule so they may not scan your package in a timely manner especially if they miss doing it when they deliver your mail. I have received mail at the regular time and at the of the delivery day, receive a text stating they were unable to find the address, which really means they forgot to deliver. Every carrier has delivery problems which stem from the person doing the delivery.

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Be Gentle

From Robert on July 21, 2020 :: 8:08 pm

If it happens more than once, then wait for the next deliveries with a big gun & shoot the S.O.B. when he picks it up.

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Getting delivery to your designated location

From Masterredfox on July 21, 2020 :: 9:15 pm

I have done the delivery instructions with every single carrier that delivers in my area but the problem is getting the delivery person to get those instructions and read them correctly. I even went through making a phone call directly to the depot and talking to the supervisor who is supposed to make sure those delivery instructions are fully available and visible for the delivery driver but most drivers barely can read the label, let alone read delivery instructions for a specific address delivery. I have resorted to contacting the shipper every time my packages are incorrectly delivered to the wrong location of the building I live at, because I have to also deal with the tenant upstairs from me taking my packages inside the building when the package is delivered to the front door rather than my door. Amazon now knows exactly how I want my deliveries but has had problems with the delivery person in my area and the substitute didn’t want to deliver to my address because they couldn’t differentiate between the multiple names and apartment numbers to delivery correctly.
The article lists great ideas but fails to address the major problem—the delivery person who is the major problem of improper delivery procedures. Why would I choose to have my packages delivered to any place but my door which is in a spot not visible to the street? I believe the main reason why the delivery person tries to not bring it to my door has to do with their laziness.

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