The term porch pirate refers to the thieving scum that steals packages from homes that are not their own. With the continued growth of e-commerce and home delivery services, porch thieves are seeing an increasing amount of opportunity to plunder online shoppers. Not only is the holiday season a great time for the patio bandits to take what is not theirs, but just about any day is now a good time for them to go to work.
According to a survey by C + Research, the average consumer spending online is $222 per month. This is giving porch pirates plenty of opportunities to take advantage of package deliveries left for their intended receiver that may not be at home. The recent pandemic with an increase in online shopping has only added to the potential for a porch pirate to strike.
The problem with porch pirates is only getting worse and there likely will not be a slowdown anytime soon. The reason for this is the acceptance of its existence and the somewhat lenient laws for offenders that still exist. For this reason, it’s important to know the steps to prevent porch piracy and what to do if it does occur.
How bad is the porch pirate problem?
According to a report on package theft, 36% of Americans have experienced a package of theirs being stolen at least one time. The same report showed that 56% of the respondents stated package theft has occurred to someone they know. It is estimated that 35.5 million people in America have been the target of theft from porch pirates with an average stolen value of about $156.
Porch pirate theft is also shown to be a repeat crime with almost 45% of victims reporting multiple strikes of delivered packages being stolen. Moreover, one in ten people say they have experienced five or more instances of a package being taken from them by a criminal that took advantage of the opportunity.
It would seem to make sense that security cameras and broad daylight would limit porch pirates from stealing packages that don’t belong to them. However, this does not prove to be the case. Approximately 75% of reported package theft happens in the daylight hours and frequently the scumbag thieves do not even try to disguise their appearance.
Why is the porch pirate problem so bad?
Easy opportunities make package theft hard to pass up.
There isn’t one simple reason why so many people seem to believe it is okay to take a package off someone’s porch that is not theirs. However, probably one of the biggest reasons is just due to how easy it often is to spot and take a delivered package from a persons porch. Labeled boxes sitting all by themselves at a home in plain view that can quickly be stolen make porch piracy a fast and often easy crime for the criminals.
Amazon is probably the largest place so many people order things from and the packages almost always have their branding printed on them. Package thieves see these and they often seize the opportunity.
The effortless opportunity for porch pirates to steal isn’t just by easily being able to identify unattended packages but they also see the delivery vehicles with Amazon printed on them driving all over every city in America. It’s not just these vehicles but also the company trucks from FedEx and UPS. Porch pirate criminals have started to figure out if they just follow these vehicles around town, they can pick up the packages when delivered and a homeowner does not answer the door.
Although the easy opportunity for stealing makes package theft a serious issue, other problems are not helping to slow down the porch pirate offenders.
Porch pirates are difficult to catch.
It is reported that less than 10% of reported package theft cases result in an arrest. This is even while more homeowners are installing security cameras. The truth here is that pursuing package theft crime is often not worth the investigation time involved. Many law enforcement officers frequently just tell people to get a refund for their stolen package.
It is somewhat understandable with law enforcement’s stance on not investigating too deeply into porch pirate thieves and their crimes. Although stealing is a crime, the police really do have better things to do than to track down someone that steals a package off someone’s front door. The reason for this is the punishment for the crime. It is often a low dollar amount that many times only results in a misdemeanor and a slap on the wrist.
It really can be hard to blame the police that don’t want to spend the time to catch a porch pirate when an arrest would likely only result in the same criminal returning to the streets to do it again in a short period of time.
Porch piracy does not have a punishment that is severe enough.
Part of why law enforcement doesn’t want to often purse a porch pirate criminal is due to the lack of punishment. Although some states have started to enact stricter laws for people that steal packages, most often the criminals get a small fine unless they are caught with multiple offenses. This is really the only time package theft results in jail time or a felony.
Stealing packages has just become accepted.
I believe one of the real root issues with package theft is due to how it has just become accepted. It is too easy to just file a claim and get a replacement or call the company where an order was placed telling them you did not receive the item. Far too often a company will just send out another item without much question. They have built-in acceptability for loss. Too many companies have just accepted package theft as a part of doing business.
Porch pirating is in many ways like credit card fraud with how it is easily accepted and often limited in punishment as a crime. With the problem of package theft being so bad people have just come to terms that it is going to exist.
How can you prevent from being the victim of porch piracy?
There really is no way to completely put a stop to criminal thugs stealing packages off your porch. However, there are some steps to take that can limit the odds of being a porch pirate’s next target.
- Install security at your home. It has become much easier and cost-effective with today’s technology to install a security camera available from popular companies, such as Ring. The only thing to note with doing this is it won’t necessarily completely prevent package theft. However, it can make thieves think twice before trying to swipe a delivery and at the very least camera footage of theft is helpful for a police report.
- Think about purchasing shipping insurance. A lot of shipping companies offer insurance. This can be a good idea with higher-value items. However, you need to know that with any type of insurance it can be challenging to file a claim and get reimbursed.
- Give delivery drivers instructions. If you have frequent deliveries, ask the driver to put any packages around the corner at your home or in the back. They might not honor your wishes or follow your directions but some delivery drivers might.
- Ask for signature confirmation for high-value items. Although a shipper of a high-value purchase will likely want someone to accept and sign for a package, not all might do this. Ask the shipper if they can do this. This way a package will not just be left in front of the door.
- Sign up for notifications regarding tracking. With the technology available today, tracking the progress of delivery for a package is easier than ever. Get a tracking number for any things you order online and register for shipping notifications if this is available.
- Have packages delivered to an address where someone will be around. If ordering things to be delivered and you will not be home when they do get dropped off, make other arrangements for someone to be home. If it’s possible, have packages delivered to your work address.
What should you do if you have a package stolen from your porch?
If you are the target of a package thief, the first step is to likely get angry. Blow off steam and swear a whole lot if it makes you feel better. Once this is done, it is important to realize there are some things you can do to either get a replacement or be covered for the dollar amount lost.
First, contact the seller and let them know what happened. File a claim and inquire with them about getting a replacement. You might find this is simple to do and particularly with lower value goods. Higher dollar items will be much more challenging to just get a replacement sent.
Reach out to the shipping company and let them know what happened. File a claim for a stolen package. Because porch piracy is so common, there are ways to get help, and shipping companies are all well versed in their procedures.
File an insurance claim with your renters or homeowners. Check to see if package theft might be covered. Every policy is different so it is important to be up to date on the finer details.
Contact the police and possibly file a report. Although the package theft thug might not be apprehended, you might want to at least get a record of the crime. Moreover, depending on what is stolen a report might be required for a replacement or refund.
What is the bottom line with porch pirate theft?
The conclusion with porch pirates is they truly suck and the problem won’t be going away anytime soon. This is the result of how easy it is for thieves to swipe packages that are not theirs off a porch. Security cameras and daylight do not many times even appear to discourage porch package stealing criminals.
The acceptance of criminals stealing delivered packages combined with limited punishment is not going to encourage porch pirates to stop. The crime of package theft is only going to start decreasing when the laws become stricter for the crime and more people including law enforcement do not just see porch piracy as an accepted crime.
If package theft continues to rise and people just become comfortable with it, companies will continue to pass their losses onto the buyers resulting in continued higher prices for every buyer that purchases something that has to be delivered.