Thwart Off Porch Pirates
Nothing quite beats the eager anticipation of waiting for that special gift or self-indulgence to arrive at your front door. Unfortunately, growing numbers of deliveries are falling prey to “porch pirates” who plunder your packages before you get to them. An estimated 30 percent of all Americans have had a package stolen. Indeed, nearly one in five U.S. homeowners was a victim of package theft in 2016, according to a study conducted by home security provider Ring in October and November of 2017.
The rise in theft is certainly being fueled by the growing number of deliveries. One in two homeowners report that they receive packages delivered to the home at least once a week, and a quarter of all homeowners receive packages several times a week. The average value of a stolen package last year was $140, according to the Ring survey, which noted that while package theft spikes during the holidays, it's a year-round scourge.
So, what’s a busy online shopper to do? Read on for a list of some cutting-edge high-tech—and traditional low-tech—ideas for protecting your packages from pilferage.
Install a Smart Lock
There are numerous home door locks on the market today that can interface with your mobile phone. Industry leaders offering “smart locks” include Yale, Schlage, Kwikset, August, Friday, and Gate. These door locks connect via either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi networks and let you open and close doors by using an app on your phone. Pricier models allow you to provide access for friends, family, or delivery personnel.
Related: Buyer’s Guide: Door Locks
Try Amazon Key
If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, chances are you have heard about Amazon Key, an in-home package delivery service that enables delivery people to leave packages inside your front door. Amazon Key works with a variety of smart door locks, including the Kwikset Convert, Yale Assure, and SmartCode 914. Many other smart lock manufacturers are developing products compatible with Amazon Key.
Install a Security System
A monitored security system can help persuade would-be thieves to move along. Many package thefts are opportunistic, and if it looks like your home is protected, crooks will target someone else’s unguarded home. Even if you don’t have a monitored security system, you can still deter criminals by installing a security camera—and making sure the camera is visible to would-be package snatchers.
Use Smart Sensors
Smart-home technology is becoming more and more integrated. Today, you can install smart sensors on doors, windows, garages, and other points of entry, and these sensors can integrate with other smart-home components to alert you when something is opened. Notion sensors, for instance, integrate with the Nest Learning Thermostat to alert you when a door, window, or garage door opens. As a bonus, smart sensors can also alert you to water leaks, smoke alarms, and temperature changes.
Set Up a Lock Box
Mailboxes used to be simple and small. Now, a whole new generation of larger “lock boxes” are designed to accommodate packages while blending in attractively with your home’s exterior. Many of these large boxes are being marketed with compatible “smart padlocks” that open only when the delivery person inputs a tracking number or scans a bar code. BoxLock, for example, is an internet-connected security padlock designed to protect packages delivered to residential consumers and works with Step2’s large package delivery boxes.
Another secure option is Parcel Guard by Danby, a smart mailbox that has a live camera, motion sensor, and security alarm. The delivery person places your package into the "anti-theft drop slot," and then it's lowered into a locked compartment. You receive a notification to your phone when it's delivered and use the app to lock and unlock the compartment. As an added layer of security you can mount the mailbox to the ground making it virtually impossible for a thief to take off with your goods.
Avoid the package theft problem entirely by redirecting deliveries to a secure location, such as an Amazon Locker or UPS Access Point. Amazon Lockers are secure, self-service kiosks located across the United States in convenience stores and supermarkets; there are more than 2,800 lockers in some 70 major metropolitan areas in the United States. UPS customers can redirect deliveries to approximately 9,000 “access points” in delis, grocery stores, florist shops, dry cleaners, and UPS stores across the country.
Have Packages Delivered to Work
Ask Carrier to Hide Packages
Even something as simple as putting a package on a back porch or in a storage shed can deter theft. Leave a note for your carrier to hide packages in a predetermined location, following the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind.”
Use "Ship to Store"
Hold for Delivery
Ask a Neighbor
In the old days, if you knew a package was coming and you didn’t want it left outside, you asked a friend or neighbor to pick it up and hold on to it for you. This still works great today, especially if you have neighbors who work from home. Be sure to let your carrier know that your neighbor is authorized to accept your packages.
Just Stay Home
It may sound simple, but about half of all homeowners (48 percent) choose to stay home when they have a package coming, according to the Ring survey. Sometimes the oldest and simplest solution can also be the best way to ensure that you enjoy your special purchase—not some random robber!
With these helpful tips you never have to worry again that packages will be stolen while you're out.
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