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Nine Ways To Thwart Porch Pirates

TOOLS, TECHNOLOGY & TIPS

E-commerce sales have soared since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and so have the number of thieves cruising the streets for unwatched packages.

These so-called porch pirates sneak up to your home and scurry away with your groceries, new shoes or electronics. Some savvy scoundrels even follow Amazon and UPS trucks at a safe distance to pluck packages one by one.

Here are nine ways to prevent porch piracy.  

Packages
 
SELECT AN INCONSPICUOUS DELIVERY LOCATION

Many online vendors request delivery instructions at check-out. Be specific. For instance, note that you’d like the item placed near the back door or behind a bush next to the side garage—not on the front porch.

INSTALL A SECURITY CAMERA NEAR THE DELIVERY AREA
Digitally based security products, including the Ring doorbell camera, connect to your phone or tablet. If someone triggers the camera, you’ll receive a notification. Then, view the live footage or talk to the person via the security system’s app.

These systems are affordable, so invest in a high-definition model that will capture the person’s facial features, recommends Robert D. Sollars with Tempe, Arizona-based Sollars Violence Prevention. Also, consider aiming a camera at the street to record vehicles so you can capture descriptions and details.

If wiring is an issue, choose a brand like Arlo, which makes wireless security cameras and doorbells that send instant alerts.
  
Tracking
  
TRACK PACKAGES
Once you receive tracking information, note when a package is shipped and when it might arrive.

After receiving a delivery notification, collect the item immediately, says Sergio Flores, chief product officer of Canary, a home security company.

Amazon now sends alerts through the Alexa mobile app or an announcement via Echo when a supported camera or video doorbell detects a person or package.

DELIVER TO A WORK ADDRESS
If you’re back in the office and your workplace allows it, have items sent to that address.

“Just be sure you have a place to keep them and take them home daily, in case there’s a thief at work,” Sollars says.
 
Direct deliver
 
REQUIRE A SIGNATURE UPON DELIVERY

Grace Baena elects to add this extra step, if available. Note that there might be a cost. “While it may be inconvenient for me, it guarantees that whatever I purchased actually ends up in my possession,” says the New Yorker.

Well, hopefully. The delivery service may ignore the request, Sollars warns. “In the end, they can and usually will just leave it at the front door if no one is home to sign for it.” Some forge a signature, which is an issue if the item goes missing.

SHED LIGHT ON THE AREA
Since Amazon delivers at all hours, use motion detector floodlights to illuminate any thievery at night. Eufy’s Floodlight Cam 2 Pro combines lights and video.
 
Amazon box
 
CONSIDER A PACKAGE LOCK BOX FOR YOUR HOME
Not surprisingly, you’ll find many options on Amazon, including the Loxx Boxx parcel boxes you can control with an app, and the Simplay3 storage container, which has a planter on top.

Affix the box to a permanent structure so the thief won’t pinch the box and the goods. Vicki Liston of On the Fly…DIY built an attractive 90-pound design.

“Someone looking just to snag a package is most likely not committed to dragging a heavy wooden structure down the street,” notes Liston, whose step-by-step guide is available on YouTube.

USE A HUB LOCKER LOCATION OR AMAZON KEY SERVICE
Amazon has Hub Locker arrangements with locations nationwide to retrieve and return packages. Some of the sites offer counter service instead of a physical locker.

The Amazon Key Service, free for Prime members, requires the myQ smart garage app. Drivers scan the package to activate the door without needing your private code.

CREATE A PACKAGE RETRIEVAL ARRANGEMENT WITH NEIGHBORS
If you aren’t home, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your property, particularly if you’re traveling. Maintaining relationships with the people on your street or in your building can pay off in more ways than one.