How to protect yourself from porch pirates this holiday season

Porch pirates are capitalizing on the uptick of online sales during the pandemic made by those actively avoiding crowded malls and shopping centers. Nearly 14% of Americans — 35.5 million — claim they’ve been victimized, according to new survey data conducted by Finder.com. Overall, the theft amounts to $5.4 billion […]

Porch pirates are capitalizing on the uptick of online sales during the pandemic made by those actively avoiding crowded malls and shopping centers.

Nearly 14% of Americans — 35.5 million — claim they’ve been victimized, according to new survey data conducted by Finder.com. Overall, the theft amounts to $5.4 billion worth of stolen items in the past year alone. On a per-person scale, that total averages out to $156.82 worth of goods claimed by porch pirates in the United States.

“Fortunately, though, there are a couple ways to protect yourself from becoming a porch pirate’s next victim,” said Cheryl Wagemann, Finder’s shopping editor.

Depending on the type of property you call home, there are different interventions you can take to prevent your packages from being stolen off of your front door or in your lobby. Each tactic also comes with a different level of investment.

Nearly 14% of Americans — 35.5 million — claim they’ve been victimized by porch pirates, according to new survey data conducted by Finder.com. (Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)
Nearly 14% of Americans — 35.5 million — claim they’ve been victimized by porch pirates, according to new survey data conducted by Finder.com. (Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Free interventions

  • As long as your items are coming from Amazon and you live within a reasonable distance, ship your items to an Amazon Locker, the company’s self-service package delivery kiosk.

  • Request a signature on delivery and if you miss the delivery person, you can pick up from the nearest hub or facility.

  • Ship the package to a trusted neighbor or relative who will be home, Wagemann suggested. “If you’re friendly with your neighbors, you can also make a pact to keep an eye on each other’s deliveries when you’re both home,” she said.

A bright yellow Amazon storage locker is pictured outside a 7-Eleven in Boston. The high-tech lockers claim to prevent the theft of deliveries from your doorstep by package pirates. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A bright yellow Amazon storage locker is pictured outside a 7-Eleven in Boston. The high-tech lockers claim to prevent the theft of deliveries from your doorstep by package pirates. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
  • Track your deliveries online and plan to be home when they arrive to minimize the time they’re left unattended, Wagemann said.

  • Forget home delivery altogether and opt for in-store or curbside pickup.

  • If delivery instructions and an alternative entrance is available, request the package be left out of sight at a rear or side door.

Investment-heavy interventions

A doorbell device with a built-in camera made by home security company Ring is seen on August 28, 2019, in Silver Spring, Maryland. These devices allow users to see video footage of who is at their front door when the bell is pressed or when motion activates the camera. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A doorbell device with a built-in camera made by home security company Ring is seen on August 28, 2019, in Silver Spring, Maryland. These devices allow users to see video footage of who is at their front door when the bell is pressed or when motion activates the camera. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
  • Rent a post office box through the U.S. Postal Service. Rates depend on where you live, length of rental, and dimensions of the box. One downside is that you’ll have to make more frequent trips to the post office, but it might be worth the peace of mind that your items are secured.

  • Thieves don’t take well to the spotlight, so installing a motion-activated light may thwart their devious behavior. Entry-level security lights begin around $25 at Home Depot and require minimal installation.

  • Surveilling your front door with a security camera might be the appropriate action for you to catch a criminal in the act. Popular brands include Ring and Nest, and equipment begins around $200. If you’re able to make a hefty investment, home security companies like ADT and Brinks Home Security can rig your home with sirens, motion detectors, and provide 24/7 monitoring for unwelcome activity.

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Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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