In the state of Texas, it is a felony to steal packages off front porches. But that won’t stop porch pirates who are on a mission to plunder holiday loot off the doorsteps of unsuspecting households.
By Mechele Mills
The rise of online marketplaces and expedited delivery services has created an environment which allows shoppers to very conveniently search for the perfect gift for friends and family. Unfortunately, purchasing and having the item shipped does not guarantee it’s delivery. BBB reminds consumers that there are steps which can be taken to prevent porch pirates from getting away with the goods.
According to a Security.org study, approximately 79% of consumers experienced package theft in 2022.
Package thieves, also known as “porch pirates,” often take advantage of an opportunity and may frequent a neighborhood or community multiple times before moving on to another. They will often target houses that provide a quick in-and-out route, especially if the porch or area where packages are delivered is within 25 feet of the street and is easily visible.
In the state of Texas it is a felony to steal packages off front porches. But that won’t stop porch pirates who are on a mission to plunder holiday loot off the doorsteps of unsuspecting households.”
BBB provides the following tips to prevent package thieves from affecting your holiday plans (and the rest of the year):
Don’t leave packages unattended. When possible, do not leave delivered packages unattended for long periods. If you are expecting a package, try to schedule delivery at a time when you will be home, or ask your neighbors if they mind holding on to packages delivered if you plan to be away from home.
Ship to the store. Consider shipping your items directly to the retailer’s physical location closest to your home. As retailers require proof of purchase or identification before releasing packages they have received, this is a sure way to avoid porch pirates.
Use a security camera. Installing a home security system with cameras or a camera-enabled doorbell is a great way to deter package theft, especially when highly visible. Consider including a sign that specifically states that the residence is under surveillance. Even if a package is stolen from your porch, the video evidence will help law enforcement track down the thieves (but be wary of the risk of internet-connected devices and research before you purchase).
Require a signature. Many delivery companies include the option to require a signature before leaving a package, letting you take physical possession of the item as soon as it is delivered. While this option works well for those often at home, especially for expensive items, it may create difficulties in receiving packages if your schedule and the delivery service differ. Be sure to check with the delivery company on their policy for packages that are not signed for; they may return it 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.
If you fear your package being stolen, file a report with your local police department and the delivery company. Depending on your delivery service, they may offer insurance or other policies to reimburse you for your losses.
Mechele Agbayani Mills is president, and CEO of BBB Central East Texas.