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How to prevent 'Porch Pirates' stealing your packages

A thief stealing a parcel from a porch

Back before online firms dominated so much of the retail market, parcels were fairly uncommon. Nowadays, the UK spends more than £110bn on items bought online that get dropped off at our homes every year.

Lockdowns saw a surge in boredom-driven purchases. Delivery drivers had never been so busy and it’s not slowed down since, either. In fact, it’s estimated that Britain has 60 million e-commerce users. An impressive number given there are 67 million people in the country.

This has presented something of a problem: porch pirates.

Criminals will exploit any new developments in shopping habits and £110bn worth of items being dropped off at unoccupied houses is potentially a very lucrative new development indeed. This gets more tempting for thieves at the end of November when Brits go on an annual spending spree around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The Citizens Advice Bureau reports more than 20,000 visits to its lost and stolen parcels webpage every month, so this is no minor crime. How do you protect yourself from these parcel stealers?

Track your delivery status

You wouldn’t leave a laptop, tablet, watch or expensive coat hanging around outside your house ordinarily, would you? However, if you’re not at home, a delivery driver very well might.

It’s easy to order things and forget about them. But in doing so you surrender control over their delivery and safety. If you keep on top of expected delivery days and times, you can mitigate the risk of having parcels waiting around. One way to do this is to track the status of any expensive items and try to ensure that you - or someone you trust - are in when deliveries are expected to be made.

Fit a doorbell camera system

There are two pretty solid reasons why installing a visible doorbell camera setup may work here. Firstly, should you find yourself the victim of porch theft, you have video evidence of the crime and can show police. Secondly, it acts as a deterrent to any would-be thieves that stroll up your driveway looking for something to take.

Up your security (or at least appear to)

If you want to go one better than the doorbell camera system, you can install a proper CCTV video system. It’s pricey, but it’s going to put parcel swipers off. Not only that but it’s likely to be the same for home invaders too.

According to research, 83% of thieves attempt to identify whether a property has a home security system. If there is security, 87% would go on to another house.

Of course, if you’re worried about just how much it may end up costing… just install fake cameras. It’s a tried and tested method. Often, cagey thieves won’t take the chance even if they suspect your camera to be plastic.

Request signature on delivery

It’s a little inconvenient if there’s no one there to sign for it and take the parcel inside, but if you’re expecting something arriving of some value, ask that it require a signature. This way, the driver won’t - or at least shouldn’t - leave the delivery outside.

Have your items sent to a secure drop-off location

If you’re rarely at home during the day but want to guarantee that porch pirates are starved of booty to plunder, consider using a safe drop box.

You could potentially have the item remain at the depot of the carrier and pick it up yourself. Alternatively, you can investigate your options in terms of local shops that provide the service.

Use Amazon lockers

Amazon Hub Lockers are secure, self-service kiosks for Amazon package pickup. Lockers are strategically placed in supermarkets, shops, banks, car parks, petrol stations and other convenient areas for quick and simple pickup. The firm presently operates over 8,000 lockers across 900 towns and cities throughout the United Kingdom.

When your package is delivered, you will receive a notification. When you get to the locker you will enter the code that Amazon provides you, causing the locker to unlock. Nobody can get the package without the unique code, so you know it's safe until you pick it up.

As you can imagine, this only works with deliveries from Amazon.

Arrange for a hidden drop-off

Deliveries can be dropped off at your house without you there to collect them and keep them safe. One rather smart way of doing just this is via a hideaway.

Cleverly designed to look like boring outdoor items such as planters, porch pirates won’t know they could be full of brown boxed beauties unless they watch the driver drop them off.

Get a lockbox

Similar to the last tip, but less sneaky… You can get a parcel lockbox. All you need to do is set a passcode and leave the porch locker box’s whereabouts and code in the notes section when you make your purchase or hear from the delivery company.

Now, this will look like a safe and not a pot plant, but it’s tough to break into. Your common porch thief is highly unlikely to be packing a welding kit with them.

Enlist a neighbour’s help

Let’s not forget the old-school tips. If you’re friends with one or more of your neighbours, see if they’ll take your parcels in.

It may seem like a bit of a favour or liberty, but you can offer the same service back to them, especially if they also shop a lot online.

Have all deliveries sent to your workplace

What’s the ultimate way to ensure that criminals cannot target your parcels at home when you’re not around? Well, by making sure they’re not dropped off at your home in the first place.

Request that all deliveries come to your office or place of work and you can forget about the pirates.