Unwanted Holiday Shoppers

It is an unfortunate reality that many of us have accepted the scourge of “porch pirating” as part and parcel of modern Christmas chaos.   You know the holiday shopper who is happy to shop off someone else’s house porch. With the shipping industry running essentially 24/7, and many of us working extra hours or extra jobs to make a few extra dollars for Christmas gifts, it is nearly impossible to guarantee that you will be able to wait on your doorstep to receive every individual package. But there are a couple of steps you can take to safeguard all those inbound gifts for your loved ones.

Cameras

If you don’t already have a security camera, or cameras, for your home, this is a good reason to make the investment. With the proliferation of doorbell cams like Ring and Blink, it’s never been easier or less expensive to purchase a little piece of mind for your front step. While ease-of-access is the primary advantage to this strategy, the downside is that having cameras does not do anything to physically prevent robberies. There is definitely a strong deterrent factor to visibly placed surveillance systems, but not all thieves are discouraged by the idea of being seen. Furthermore, post-COVID societal norms have given everyone a perfectly acceptable reason to wear masks in public. So even if you get footage of a porch theft occurring, a two-dollar paper mask is enough to obstruct the police from being able to action on the recording you turn over to them after-the-fact. Even still, having a video or photo record of the theft could still come in handy when trying to reconcile the financial loss. 

Package Hold Services

Perhaps the best way to avoid porch piracy is to avoid having your package dropped on the porch altogether. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. One is to file a request with the post office to hold all deliveries at your nearest branch until such time as you can come pick this up. Most major delivery services have a hold-at-store alternative. Amazon even offers keyed, in-garage delivery, in addition to their Amazon Hub lockers scattered about most major cities where you can drive up at your convenience and retrieve your package. 

You may want to consider getting a post office box, either through the US Postal Service or a private company and have all holiday packages routed there. Private PO boxes or forwarding services do typically charge a monthly fee to maintain a box, so price shop for value and services offered. Alternately, if you happen to have family or friends nearby who are retired, work from home, or are otherwise home during business hours – ask them if they would mind having packages delivered to them. 

Lock Boxes

If you’d still like your packages to go directly to your doorstep, you can purchase a locking drop box. These work much like the blue public mailboxes you see around town – there is a door with a one-way slot that empties into a locked compartment in the base of the box. Lock boxes are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points. Delivery drivers can deposit packages that will remain safe in the container until you arrive home to unlock the box and remove them. Just keep in mind that you may need to secure the lock box to something – to keep porch pirates from simply picking up the entire lock box and running off with it. The other issue that sometimes arises with doorstop lock boxes is that delivery drivers simply don’t use them. Whether this is because drivers don’t know what the box is or would rather drop the package on the welcome mat and get on to their next stop, these boxes only work if used. 

Insurance

While not a preventative measure, having your holiday packages insured whenever possible is always advisable. The unfortunate truth is that, in most cases of porch piracy, the victim is left with little to no recourse. If the manufacturer can prove they gave the package over to the shipping company, and the shipping company can prove they delivered it to your doorstep in accordance with their policy, there isn’t anyone to blame or prosecute except the porch pirate themselves – who often get away without being identified. Therefore, if you can have shipping insurance or protection added to your order, this at least ensures you are made whole financially after-the-fact. 

At the end of the day, the combination of opportunistic criminals, hard-working citizens, and overtaxed shipping services create a recipe for almost-irresistible crime. But with a little bit of forethought and extra planning, you may be able to mitigate the risks, or eliminate the window of opportunity for thieves to crash your Christmas shopping.

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