Will porch pirates ruin Christmas?
Move over Grinch, the porch pirates are back.
Many municipal police departments have reported a continued rise in the theft of packages from doorsteps and apartment building lobbies over the last few years as online selling expands. Incidents ramp up as holiday packages arrive.
Unfortunately, according to reports, most thieves are not caught because prevention methods fall short:
- Locked boxes are available but not all households have space for them and many rushed package deliverers don’t bother to use them.
- Surveillance cameras with motion detectors can catch thieves in the act, but police can’t always get an image of a license plate and face time constraints for the generally petty offenses.
- Amazon Key, which lets delivery personnel drop off packages in houses through a smart lock, reportedly isn’t being widely used because of concerns over strangers coming into households.
- Another smart-lock option from Amazon that allows delivery personnel to leave packages in customers’ car trunks is only available on limited car models and requires the car be parked nearby.
- In apartment buildings, thieves can often find their way around locked doors.
- Amazon, UPS and FedEx all have storage lockers at stores, banks and other locations, but that method works against online’s promise of convenient home delivery.
- Consumers can have packages sent to their workplaces, but some don’t allow it, and the customers still have to carry packages home.
Online sellers generally provide immediate refunds and send the stolen order again, but that’s a buyer inconvenience. Households may be disincentivized from better securing safe delivery in the future.
Some police departments are putting out bait packages with GPS trackers and sharing surveillance cameras videos on social media to catch thieves and raise awareness. Neighbors are even forming vigilante-like groups to catch thieves.
USA Today reports that some individuals living in high-crime areas are no longer ordering online. According to an analysis by Shorr based on Google searches and population, the highest package theft rates are San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Oakland, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
- Were your Amazon packages stolen? Porch pirates run rampant this holiday season – USA Today
- Porch pirates who steal Amazon packages at Christmas are in overdrive – The Washington Post
- Amazon uses dummy parcels to catch thieves – BBC
- Survey: Nearly One-Third Of Americans Have Had Packages Stolen From Their Doorsteps – Comcast
- Analysis: Amazon Package Theft In Major Us Cities – Shorr
- Are photos of packages on doorsteps helpful? – RetailWire
- Protecting the porch: Thieves look for deliveries – GazettExtra
- Florida porch thieves steal kids’ Christmas toys, books – Dayton Daily News
- Police going after porch thieves with GPS trackers – WXPI News
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which solutions make the most and least sense in battling household package theft? Will theft become enough of a nuisance to inhibit the growth of online retailing?