You've seen them caught on camera – brazen thieves who follow delivery trucks only to
scoop packages off the porch before homeowners even realize they've arrived. With nearly half of all holiday purchases now made online, experts expect the problem to continue to grow.
So what's the best way to stop a porch pirate? Make sure there's nothing there to steal! Here's how:
If allowed, use your work rather than home address for deliveries. Since most deliveries occur during regular business hours, getting your package dropped off at work often is the simplest way to ensure you and only you receive your package (provided you won't be trying to juggle a 50-pound box on the bus ride home!)
Use a relative or a trustworthy neighbor as your delivery address. The trick is making sure they're almost always home and, if the box is big, they can safely move it inside for you.
Request a signature at delivery and urge loved ones who are sending packages to you to do the same. If no one is there to take the package, you can reschedule delivery from the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Express, and UPS.
Take advantage of delivery alerts. Get text or email alerts when a package is about to be delivered. If you know you won't be home, you can change the drop-off address or reschedule. Basic service is free, and you can sign up online. FedEx's service is called
Delivery Manager®. For UPS, it's
Use safe sites for pickup. You can arrange to pick up your FedEx deliveries at your nearest
FedEx Office location. Amazon offers
Amazon Locker, which is a self-serve location (similar to a Post Office box) where you can pick up and return Amazon.com packages using an emailed code. UPS offers its own UPS Stores and
Access Point™, in which it partners with local retailers like convenience stores and pharmacies, to hold your packages for pickup (you sign up through its My Choice program).
Tips for senders
If you're sending a box of holiday cheer to loved ones far away, find out if they can receive packages at work, and ship there. Always insure the package before you send. That way, if it never arrives, you'll at least get your money back so you can replace the gift.
If a porch pirate does make off with your package
If you're expecting a package and it never shows up, check with the shipper to confirm it was delivered (if it was, the shipper may have insurance through the delivery service, and your order will simply be replaced). Then contact the police and provide any home security footage you may have – a license plate number, for example, could lead police to a suspect.