6 Ways To Stop Porch Pirates

As if you didn’t have enough to do to prepare for the holidays, these days you have to find ways to thwart the people whose idea of holiday shopping is to help themselves to packages from your porch or mailbox. One study reported last year that at least 26 million Americans have been subjected to this form of theft. Along with the rise of online shopping has come the rise of package thefts from people’s residences.

If you purchased the item by credit card or opted for insurance on the package, there’s a good chance you can get your money back. But that still means you have to go the trouble of tracking down what happened to the package and buying it again if it turns out to have been stolen. If you’re up against a holiday deadline, that could also be a problem. And if it was a one-of-a-kind item, you’re out of luck.

So Billshark recommends the following steps to keep these Grinches from ruining your holidays.

1. Require a signature

Under ordering instructions, check the box that requires a signature for delivery. This might not be convenient unless you work at home, but at least you know that pricey (or irreplaceable) item won’t be dropped on your doorstep until you return home. The major delivery services will normally make three attempts to deliver such a package, then take it to their facility to hold for pickup.

2. Keep it out of sight

If you have the type of property that allows for this, instruct the delivery driver to place the package out of sight. This could be inside a backyard fence or at the back door if it’s out of sight of the road, or even under a bush or unlocked storage shed or box.

3. Redirect your package

If you know you won’t be home on the projected delivery date, have it sent to a trusted neighbor or friend. Be sure to ask first, and if you each have differing schedules, offer to return the favor. Or check to see if your local police department features a program allowing package deliveries to them, which many do these days. If you have an accommodating boss (and receptionist), you can have packages delivered to your workplace.

4. Pick it up elsewhere

Check to see whether there’s an Amazon Locker convenient to you. This is a service offered by Amazon for their customers that allows you to have your purchase sent to an Amazon Locker location, which operates like a US Post Office box (which you can also rent temporarily). Some stores, including Whole Foods and local convenience stores, offer delivery lockers as well. And of course, most major stores offer in-store pickup for online orders. This might make sense if the item is especially pricey and you can’t find another place to have it delivered.

5. Go high tech

The Doorman app works just like a human doorman would and is a sort of Uber driver for packages. You have the package sent to Doorman, which then tells you the package has arrived and lets you set the time you want it delivered, up until midnight, seven days a week. The service costs $5 per delivery, or $19-$79 per month (depending on the level of service), and is available in several major cities.

If you frequently order lots of things online, it might be worth it to invest in a security camera. There are several good models that range between $100 and $200. Many have an alert feature that shows you when a package is delivered as well as a voice remote that allows you to warn anyone approaching your front door that they are being watched and recorded.

If you have a security system in place, be sure the signs warning of this are prominently featured in view of would-be thieves.

6. Lock it up

One device built especially for this purpose is the Porch Pirate bag, which comes with a combination lock and can be attached to your front door or other solid objects.

Package Guard looks like an automatic room vacuum and is connected via WiFi. If a poacher attempts to steal your package, a loud siren like a car alarm goes off.

Large lockboxes are also available for $500 and up that can be bolted to any surface and feature a digital security pad to access it. On the “special instructions” section of the order form, you can include the code for the delivery person.

It’s a shame that a handful of determined people require the rest of us to take such measures, but better safe than sorry. Meanwhile, if you need extra cash to finish your holiday shopping, let our sharks sink their teeth into your bills to find you hidden savings.

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