With Holidays Coming, Porch Theft Is a Growing Headache for Consumers

If you're worried about losing home package deliveries to "porch pirate" thieves, you're not alone.

According to a survey by Vivint Smart Home, there's "widespread concern about package theft across the U.S., which is impacting the way that consumers shop online and ship packages to their homes."

This from the Vivint survey:

  • Despite 75% of respondents voicing concern, respondents have been slow to implement security measures to combat porch piracy.
  • Millennials are the most concerned and vigilant generation when it comes to package theft, and, as a result, nearly 40% have had success in recovering stolen packages.
  • Townhomes have a higher instance of package theft than other housing types.

"Concerns about porch piracy threaten the key value proposition of online shopping -- the convenience of having a package delivered directly to your home," says Matt Mahar, vice president of consumer experience at Provo, Utah-based Vivint Smart Home. "While this has led most Americans to get creative with the way they ship packages, it is also affecting how much they buy online."

Of course, homeowners and renters don't have to sit back and take it. There are effective measures that, once put into place, can severely reduce or even eliminate holiday doorstep package theft.

"Try having the packages delivered to a friend or neighbor's house," says Robert Sollars, a security specialist in Mesa, Ariz. "You can also talk to your employer about having them delivered to your work address. As long as you aren't buying hundreds of items online, they may let you."

"You can always get a P.O. Box at the UPS Store or similar," Sollars adds. "They sign for and keep your packages until you pick them up."

Residents can also turn to technology to thwart porch pirates.

"Install a security camera on your front porch," says Sage Singleton, a home safety expert with SafeWise. "There are several outdoor security cameras available and most can be accessed through your smartphone. This allows you to keep an eye on your front porch, see when a package has arrived, record events and keep evidence if your package is damaged or stolen. It also is a deterrent for thieves."

Karen Hoxmeier, owner of MyBargainBuddy.com, a discount and bargain site for consumers, says she does most of her holiday shopping online, and porch theft is a "big concern."

"One of the best ways to prevent porch theft is knowing when you are going to receive a package and making arrangements so that the package is not left there for a long period of time," Hoxmeier says.

"For instance, when you order from Amazon, you can opt to receive text messages letting you know when a package will arrive and when it has been delivered."

Hoxmeier says that USPS has a program that allows consumers to see when a package is coming to you, get text alerts whenever there's a tracking update for your packages, and schedule a redelivery of your package online if a delivery attempt is made when you aren't home. "When you're going out of town, you can use My USPS to hold your mail," she says. "They'll keep it for you at your local Post Office until you're back in town to receive it again."

Then there's the FedEx Delivery Manager, which allows you to hold your delivery at a convenient FedEx location. "It also gives delivery instructions to FedEx for deliveries to your residential address, i.e. not to leave them on the porch, customize delivery times, request delivery to another address, request a vacation hold, and receive delivery notifications," says Hoxmeier.

"It's also good to make a pact with a neighbor or two to help each other with collecting packages if they are delivered when no one is home," Hoxmeier says.

Porch pirates are out there and they may well be targeting your holiday packages. Stop them in their tracks with the tips listed above, and keep your doorstep -- and your home -- safe for the holiday season.

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