Protect Your Packages From Porch Pirates and Parking Lot Pilferers

Thieves are on the prowl this holiday season. Here's how to safeguard your stuff, and your credit and identity.
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Many years ago, someone broke into my car and stole the items I had purchased for gifts. I had them hidden (or at least I thought I did) but nonetheless someone else got those gifts instead of my family.

It’s not just leaving gifts in cars that is a concern, it’s items shipped to your doorstep or near your mailbox. This year with the increase in online shopping, there is even more concern that thieving “porch pirates” will be lurking around homes and cruising parking lots to see what they can grab.

Over the past two years, Travelers Insurance saw a 5% spike in theft-on-premises claims in the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday alone.

Here are some ways to make sure your packages are safe this holiday season.

Keep an Eye Out for Porch Pirates: 

Many times packages are dropped off on front porches and stoops which provide thieves ample opportunity to intercept home deliveries. When making a purchase online, take advantage of electronic delivery alerts and other protections to make sure your gifts are safely delivered – and received. It is a good idea to instruct your delivery drivers to drop off packages in a safe location, such as an alley or behind a gate, they are likely happy to accommodate your requests. 

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You can also opt to pick up any delivered items yourself from the nearest facility. If you have a mailbox that is detached from your house, ask your mail carrier if they can put any packages that do not fit into your mailbox in a place not easily seen. 

Always get a tracking number so you can follow delivery times.

Beware of Parking Lot Pilfering

Thieves linger in parking lots watching for shoppers who drop off items in their cars mid-shopping trip. Once they see you leave the car, they know you are the perfect target. You won’t be back for a while and they know exactly where you put the goods. 

Remember to lock your car, secure the alarm, roll up the windows, and put things in the trunk where they are out of sight and it’s a little harder to break in.

Protect Your Identity, Both Online and in Stores

Wallets and purses are goldmines for thieves. Not only can crooks steal your credit cards and cash, but they will also have exactly what they need to steal your identity. 

Shop with only what you need to make purchases and consider securely carrying your credit card and ID in a front pocket. Less is more when shopping and the less that can get into the hands of thieves, the more secure you will be.

Online Safety

When shopping online, Travelers Insurance recommends only use secure websites, log off from a site after you have completed your purchase, and monitor your bank accounts and credit card activity regularly throughout the holidays. 

Avoid pop-up windows that are offering great deals. It is better for you to go directly to the website if you want to make a purchase rather than clicking on pop-ups.

Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection. She is a regular contributor to TheStreet’s Retirement Daily. Her work includes reporting for CBS, MarketWatch, WSJ Sunday and USA Today. Jeanette has contributed to The Today Show and a variety of other media outlets. You can follow her moneysaving tips on Facebook: Jeanette Pavini: Better Ways to Save Community or go to JeanettePavini.com.