Have you ever been victimized by porch pirates? If not, consider yourself lucky. More than thirty-five million Americans were hit in 2020. Total losses eclipsed the $5 billion mark. That is pretty amazing. Even more amazing is how brazen porch pirates have become.
Perhaps you’ve heard stories of these common criminals following FedEx or UPS drivers around, snatching up packages as quickly as they are delivered. It is both a crime of opportunity and one that shows a callous disregard for consumers and their personal property. Unfortunately, it is a sign of the times. Porch piracy exists because it is such an easy crime to pull off.
Vivint Smart Home, a nationwide provider of home automation and security systems, offers a bunch of tips on its website for avoiding porch piracy. Is there one particular strategy that is more effective than all the others? No one really knows. We don’t have enough hard and fast data to say one way or the other. We can say that every strategy has its pros and cons.
The Video Door Bell
Do you remember when the Ring video doorbell first came up a few years ago? It was marketed as a way to prevent porch piracy, among other things. The video doorbell strategy was a good one back in 2019. It is still a good strategy today. It’s especially helpful when you have a video doorbell with built-in audio capabilities.
A good video doorbell sends you notifications whenever people approach the door. You can bring up a smartphone app to see who it is, in real time. On-board audio allows you to talk to the person. Unfortunately, porch pirates are very familiar with video doorbells. The boldest among them are not intimidated.
The Package Safe
One of the more reliable anti-theft devices is a mechanical device: the package safe. This is a heavy-duty safe that you attach to the wall or floor. It is accessed with a keypad. You provide the delivery company with a PIN code. It is a one-time access code that expires after being used.
Package safes work very well. Their biggest drawback is that access codes do not necessarily get passed on to delivery drivers. You may provide a code when you buy something online, but then you need to trust the retailer to pass that information on to the delivery provider. That doesn’t always happen.
Remote Package Safes
An extension of the residential package safe is the remote safe. Not all delivery companies are offering them, but those that do install large banks of safes in public locations. Your package is delivered to a remote safe before you are sent an email notification. Then you simply drive to the location and pick the package up. Therein lies the biggest downside to this particular solution. Quite frankly, it is inconvenient.
Home or Garage Access
Some of the larger delivery companies now offer a service through which they gain temporary access to your home or garage. So you might grant access through the front door. The delivery driver steps up, uses a smartphone to unlock your door, and sets the package inside. The same process can be followed to leave packages in your garage or a locked shed. The strategy works well, but you may not want to give strangers access to your home.
There are additional ways to prevent porch piracy not mentioned in this post. Are any of them superior? Not really. Every solution has its positives and negatives. Each homeowner needs to figure out which strategy makes the most sense given the circumstances.