Preventing porch pirates from stealing your presents during the holiday season

This could be a banner year for porch pirates. CNET reports $63 billion dollars in holiday packages could be left on doorsteps this year. And researchers say package thefts were up about 20% last year.

A 2020 survey by C+R Research found 43% of shoppers say they've had a package stolen from their porch, and two-thirds of them say it's happened more than once.

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So let's look at what works, and what doesn't, in blocking porch pirates.

Researchers for a 2019 article in Criminal Justice Studies found gates, cameras and a car parked out front don't necessarily prevent a theft.  But they say it is less likely the more obstacles there are, if the porch is visible from inside the home and by neighbors, and if packages are smaller.

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Security experts say sign up to get the carrier's text alerts when the package is delivered so that you or a trusted neighbor can grab it right away.

"Whether it's Amazon or FedEx, they have those tracking systems where you can look at where your package is within your neighborhood and you can know when it’s going to arrive," said Rich Johnson with the Insurance Council of Texas.

"A lot of the delivery services will let you schedule a drop-off, which would definitely make things easier. And also requiring a signature will keep them from leaving something," said Bree Fowler with CNET.  

Or you can have a package delivered to you at work, to the store location, or to a locker where you can pick it up.

"Amazon, for instance, has Amazon Locker and these are secure drop-off, pick-up sites at drug stores, gas stations, Whole Foods," said Fowler.

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Remember to leave lights on, or use lights on timers or motion sensors to keep the porch visible.

"If you have a loud dog, make sure he or she is front and center. That can help a lot, too," added Fowler.

You can also get a porch lock box for deliveries. 


If you have a security or doorbell camera, make sure it's visible to deter would-be thieves.

You can also use a package delivery service, such as Fetch, which services apartment communities. You have your packages sent to their warehouse, then the company texts you when they arrive.  You can choose a two-hour window when you know you'll be home for delivery.

One more tip: If you have a package stolen, you can ask the retailer or the credit card you used to replace it or refund your money.