Social media posts are full of complaints about porch pirates and thieves stealing packages, gifts, decorations and other items this time of year. During the holidays, more packages are delivered to homes, and more crooks trying to get a hold of them while also scoping out houses to find vulnerable targets.
- Install lights by all exterior doors. Keep lights on all night – consider dusk-to-dawn sensors.
- Use timers on lights to give the impression you are home.
Doors and windows
- Ensure doors and windows are locked.
- Ensure exterior doors and the door leading from the garage to the home are solid core or metal construction.
- Secure and lock garage door; consider disabling the garage door opener while you are away.
- Don’t display gifts in full view of windows or where they can be seen from outside the residence.
- Trim trees to a canopy of 6 feet.
- Prune hedges to 3 feet.
- Ensure landscaping is trimmed away from doors and windows to eliminate hiding places.
- Secure valuables, such as jewelry, firearms and personally identifying information in a safe.
- Never hide a key outside.
- Consider hiring a house sitter while you are away.
- Ask neighbors to assist with trash and recycling bins and newspapers.
- Break down boxes before placing them out for recycling.
Deter porch pirates with these tips from the Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau also provides tips on how to prevent porch pirates from swiping packages and holiday gifts arriving by mail. Those tips include:
- Check with neighbors. Before filing a police report, ask neighbors if the package was delivered to the wrong address. Many delivery companies will take pictures of your package in the designated location — be sure to check for the photo and verify it is at the right spot.
- Don’t leave unattended packages. Try to schedule package deliveries when you know you will be home. Ask your neighbors if they will hold on to packages if you plan to be gone for an extended time during the holidays.
- Ship to store. If purchasing an item from a retailer that has a physical location near your home, consider shipping it there. Retailers will require proof of purchase or identification before releasing packages they have received, and this is a sure way to avoid porch pirates.
- Use a security camera. Installing a home security system with cameras or simply a camera-enabled doorbell is a great way to deter package theft, especially when highly visible. Use a sign that says the house is under surveillance. Video evidence can help law enforcement track down the thieves.
- Require a signature. Some delivery companies provide the option to require a signature before leaving a package, letting you take physical possession of the item as soon as it is delivered. Check with the delivery company on their policy for packages that are not signed for. They may be returned to the sender after a certain number of attempts.
- Consider a package receiving service. Some major retailers, such as Amazon, offer secure package receiving locations away from your home that you can access with a key or code. Some independent businesses also specialize in this service, allowing you to designate a different delivery location for your packages and the ability to pick them up on your way home.
The BBB recommends filing a police report and contacting the delivery company if a package is stolen. Some delivery services offer insurance or other reimbursement policies.