How to Prevent Theft of Packages and Mail

As noted by CNBC, an estimated 36% of Americans have had packages stolen by thieves commonly referred to as “porch pirates.”1 This number will only grow as delivery theft becomes increasingly popular. 

 

There are multiple approaches to package theft prevention, each with their own pros and cons. Learn which strategy may make the most sense for your home and preferences. 

 

Ask Delivery Drivers to Hide Packages on your Porch

 

The upside of this tactic is that it’s free. However, it’s arguably the least effective way to prevent package theft. In theory, it should work; porch pirates want to hurriedly snatch your mail in seconds, so they’re not going to scrounge about every property in search of potential deliveries. 

 

The problem is that this approach only works if delivery drivers follow your instructions. Some may, but many are under pressure and will hurriedly overlook (or ignore) your written request to hide packages. 

 

Is the above worth it?

 

There’s minimal downside to requesting they hide deliveries, especially because it’s free. However, this alone won’t provide consistent package theft prevention. Pair this step with other protective measures for greater peace of mind. 

 

Invest in a Doorbell Camera

 

You can use doorbell cameras for more than greeting guests. Control the settings so you receive a notification if someone approaches the house, regardless of whether they announce themselves. The doorbell camera will automatically record porch pirates’ attempted package theft, and you can talk directly through the device. Drop that at once, I’m calling the police!

 

Is it worth it?

 

We’ll admit, we’re fans of the doorbell camera. With cool features like night vision, facial recognition, cloud storage, and compatibility with voice-activated smart home systems, what’s not to love? 

 

Use it to ask delivery drivers to hide packages. Record your teenage neighbor’s suspicious loitering on your steps. Even give porch pirates a good scare! A doorbell camera can go a long way to helping to protect your packages and home. 

 

Consider Splurging on a Locking Mailbox to Help Protect Smaller Packages

 

There are countless locking mailboxes on the market, with the top-reviewed options listed by MSN. Even the boldest of thieves won’t be able to break into the boxes without causing a scene. If mail or packages make their way inside, you’re near-guaranteed that they’ll stay safe until you arrive home. 

 

However, this option is not without its downsides. For starters, the size of the box may limit the kinds of packages you can protect from porch thieves, as these are primarily intended to secure paper mail

 

Larger models can cost at least $500, if not more. Even then, there’s no guarantee that a rushing delivery driver won’t simply leave the delivery on the porch, vulnerable to thieves.

 

Is it worth it?

 

We think that locked mailboxes are a great solution for protecting traditional mail. If this is the intended purpose, you can find an appropriately sized model for under $100. 

 

However, if you’re someone who receives medium or large boxes on a semi-regular basis, you need another plan for package theft prevention.

 

All Else Fails, Consider Rerouting Packages to a Different Location

 

If package theft persists despite your best efforts, consider changing your shipping address. Alternatives include your place of work or a neighbor’s house who is present most of the day. You can also ask that packages be held at your post office for pickup or rent a PO box. Similarly, Amazon gives you the option to ship to one of their storage lockers. 

 

There are private services that collect and protect packages on your behalf. These tend to operate solely in larger cities but are gradually entering less densely-populated areas. 

 

Is it worth it?

 

The short answer is yes, as this is a near-foolproof way to protect packages from porch pirates

 

The longer answer is that it depends. Is the storage locker or post office nearby, or would you drive out-of-your-way to get there? Similarly, how many packages do you receive? Services like GoLocker charge $1.99 per package, which can slowly add up. 

 

If you’re willing to tolerate the added inconvenience and charges, this may be the best way to thwart package thieves

 

Package Theft Prevention Options We Don’t Recommend

 

We Don’t Recommend – Amazon Key

 

Perhaps you’ve heard of Amazon Key, a service in which delivery drivers place packages directly inside your garage or home rather than leaving them on the porch. The included technology notifies you when the driver arrives, when they depart, and records the entire thing. Super convenient, right? 

 

We share the concerns of many home security professionals: With each delivery, you grant a new stranger the opportunity to case your home from the inside-out. Plus, what if you have a pet who will be home when the stranger enters the home? 

 

Is it worth it?

 

This related technology is $250 and can only be used with Amazon (and excludes anything sold through Amazon by a third-party vendor or exceeding a certain size).2 Compare this to a doorbell camera, which is $199 and can be used for a full range of purposes. 

 

When reviewing the product for the Washington Post, Geoffrey A. Fowle wrote, “The bad news is Amazon missed four of my in-home deliveries and charged me (on top of a Prime membership) for gear that occasionally jammed and makes it awkward to share my own door with people, apps, services — and, of course, retailers — other than Amazon . . . After two weeks, my family voted to remove the Amazon Key smart lock and take down the camera.”

 

We Don’t Recommend – Relying Solely Upon Requiring a Signature Upon Arrival

 

Companies like FedEx, DHL, and UPS give you the option to require a signature upon arrival. This way, you can immediately take the package inside rather than letting it sit unattended. Yet this solution has its downsides:

 

  • If you aren’t home when the driver comes, you will experience further delivery delays or may need to drive to collect it from a facility

 

  • You must pay extra per package for this option

 

  • Most companies require the signer to be at least 21-years-old

 

  • Many popular shippers don’t offer this option. Does the name Amazon ring a bell?

 

Is it worth it?

 

This solution makes sense in select scenarios, but don’t think of it as a foolproof way to prevent package theft. The added cost per package will quickly add up, and the ability to only accept deliveries when you’re home will become frustrating. 

 

A doorbell camera will notify you when a delivery driver drops off a package, granting you the same opportunity to take it inside if you’re present. However, it doesn’t have the same limitations as requiring a signature upon arrival, making it the preferred package protection solution. 

 

Want to learn more about doorbell cameras? 

Your Guide to Choosing the Best Video Doorbell Camera Option for Your Family

 

  1. Martino, Díamaris. “Over a Third of Americans Are Victims of ‘Porch Pirates.’ How Not to Become a Statistic.” CNBC, CNBC, 13 Dec. 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/12/13/over-a-third-of-americans-are-porch-pirate-victims-dont-become-one.html. 
  2. Fowler, Geoffrey. “Review | Amazon Wants a Key to Your House. I Did It. I Regretted It.” The Washington Post, 7 Dec. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/12/07/amazon-wants-a-key-to-your-house-i-did-it-i-regretted-it/.