Updated on 11/21/2023 with the latest delivery options and product recommendations.
Nearly 80% of Americans take advantage of the convenience of online shopping, according to Statista. However, this convenience brings a significant risk: package theft. A recent Lombardo Home study revealed that 21% of respondents experienced parcel theft this year, and 62% know someone who faced this issue during the holiday season.
The risk is heightened when packages are left unattended on front porches – often for hours while we're at work or even days when we're away on vacation. This situation offers ample opportunity for thieves.
The aftermath of such thefts can be frustrating. Once a package is stolen, options for recourse are limited. Retailers and delivery companies typically aren't liable for packages once delivered, and their policies on replacing stolen items vary. While filing a police report is advisable, it rarely results in the recovery of the stolen items.
So, how can we proactively thwart porch pirates? Let's delve into seven strategies that can help safeguard your deliveries.
1. Manage your delivery options with the shipping company
Most major shipping companies – including major carriers like UPS, FedEx, or USPS – provide notifications for the estimated arrival time of your package, rescheduling deliveries for a more convenient time, or arranging for your package to be held for pickup at a designated location. It's a wise idea to take advantage of these features to make sure packages don't go missing.
While most shippers have the option to pick up at one of their locations, FedEx also provides the option to have your package delivered to a nearby Dollar General or Walgreens. With over 7,500 Walgreens locations, many of which are open 24 hours, opting for delivery to these sites can be a convenient and cost-free alternative for receiving your packages.
Scheduling and pick-up options usually become available when you receive your package tracking number from the shipper. While signing up for these notifications is typically free, there might be a fee for scheduling your delivery for a new time.
2. Add delivery instructions to keep packages off the front porch
In some cases, you can provide additional delivery instructions with your order to enhance security. For example, you might request that items be left by a side door, making them less visible to potential thieves. When entering shipping information, look for the 'delivery instructions' option on the retailer's site and include any specific details that could help safeguard your package.
There's no guarantee that the delivery company will respect your request, but it's worth giving it a shot.
3. Have packages left inside your garage with Key by Amazon In-Garage Delivery
It doesn't get any more convenient than Key by Amazon In-Garage Delivery, 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.
While the idea of remote garage access may raise security concerns, Amazon implements several measures to safeguard your home and deliveries. Here’s how the in-garage delivery process works:
- You'll receive an alert before the driver arrives, indicating the expected delivery window.
- Upon arrival, the driver scans your package, triggering a request to Amazon to open your garage door.
- Amazon confirms the driver at your address is the one assigned to your delivery.
- You're notified that your package is being delivered.
- Amazon remotely opens your garage door without giving the driver any access codes.
- The driver places the package just inside your garage door.
- After delivery, the driver requests Amazon to close your garage.
- Amazon notifies you that the delivery is complete and your garage is securely closed.
For added security, Amazon can record the delivery if you have an Amazon Key-eligible camera, such as the Ring Indoor Cam 2nd Gen ($59.99, on sale for $29.99 at time of publication), Ring Stick Up Cam ($99.99, on sale for $59.99 at time of publication), or the myQ Smart Garage Camera ($79.99, on sale for $39.99 at time of publication). You can watch the delivery live or review it later, ensuring complete peace of mind.
To use this service, first verify its availability in your area by checking your zip code on Amazon (you'll need to scroll down to find it). If you are eligible, you'll need compatible hardware, like the myQ Smart Garage Control ($29.99, on sale for $18.25 at time of publication) or the Aladdin Connect Wi-Fi RetroFit Kit ($59.99). These devices integrate with your existing garage door opener. If you already have a myQ or Aladdin Connect account, simply link it to your Amazon account to start using the service.
4. Completely customize your delivery options with TaskRabbit
For those who prefer to avoid the hustle of mall shopping, TaskRabbit offers a convenient alternative. The service allows you to hire someone to shop for you and deliver items directly to your doorstep.
To use TaskRabbit, simply visit their website, detail your shopping needs, and choose a 'Tasker' from a list of qualified individuals. Payment is based on an hourly rate, which varies depending on the chosen Tasker. While this might be more expensive compared to other delivery options, TaskRabbit provides a unique benefit: the flexibility to tailor your delivery specifics, including the timing and method, a level of customization not typically offered by other services.
5. Watch for deliveries and package thieves with a video doorbell
A video doorbell serves as more than just a doorbell; it can also be a deterrent against porch pirates. While it can't physically stop a thief, its presence can make a would-be thief think twice. When a delivery person arrives, you can interact with them through the doorbell, guiding them on where to safely leave the package.
Like a security camera, these doorbells are motion-activated and record footage of anyone near your front door. This means if someone takes your package, you'll have video evidence to provide to the police.
Investing in a video doorbell does involve an initial expense and requires installation. Once installed, keep in mind that ongoing cloud recording might need a subscription, adding to the overall cost. Think of a video doorbell as a long-term investment in your home's security rather than just a means to monitor packages.
Our top recommendation for a video doorbell is the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 ($249.99, on sale for $149.99 at time of publication). For those without an existing wired doorbell and seeking a more budget-friendly option, the Blink Video Doorbell Wired ($59.99, on sale for $29.99 at time of publication) would be our choice.
6. Pick an alternate delivery location
To effectively prevent package theft, consider avoiding porch deliveries altogether. Opting for delivery to an alternative location where someone can receive it is a secure and often cost-free solution. Here are a few options:
- Local Relative or Neighbor: Have your package delivered to a nearby relative or a trusted neighbor who is often home. FedEx and UPS even allow rerouting to different residential addresses.
- Your Workplace: If permissible, use your office address for deliveries, ensuring someone is always there to receive them.
- P.O. Box or UPS Mailbox: Be mindful that while these provide a secure location for your packages, they come with a monthly rental fee. Also, not all P.O. boxes accept packages, so it's essential to confirm this before renting.
For Amazon shoppers, Amazon Pickup Locations offers a network of Amazon Lockers and Counters at various locations like convenience stores, drug stores, and Whole Foods. With locations in more than 900 cities and some open 24 hours, it offers a convenient and secure alternative to traditional home delivery.
Here's how to use the Amazon Pickup Locations service:
- Locate a Pickup Location: Search for a nearby Amazon Locker or Counter on the Amazon Pickup Locations page or during checkout. Each listing provides the address, hours of operation, and instructions for package pickup.
- Select Your Preferred Pickup Location: Choose the Locker or Counter location that suits you.
- Complete Your Checkout: Proceed with the checkout process as usual.
- Wait for Delivery Confirmation: Once your package is delivered, Amazon will email you instructions for pickup.
- Package Pickup: Retrieve your package within three days from a Locker or within 14 days from a Counter to prevent it from being returned.
7. Opt for curbside pickup at a local store
Practically every retailer with physical stores will let you pick up purchases curbside at your local store rather than have them 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. As a bonus, there's usually no delivery 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 locally, you can often collect it on the same day. Once your order is ready, drive to the store and confirm your pickup. A store associate will then place your purchases directly into your trunk, combining convenience with efficiency.
Protecting your deliveries from theft is about combining vigilance with the smart use of technology and services. From scheduling deliveries with shipping companies to utilizing innovative solutions like Amazon Pickup Locations or video doorbells, each method offers a layer of security to safeguard your packages. Taking proactive steps can significantly diminish the chances of your parcels falling into the wrong hands.
[Image credit: package on doorstep via BigStockPhoto]