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How to keep packages safe from porch pirates

House with front porch

More U.S. consumers are shopping online than ever before. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales grew nine times faster than traditional in-store sales between 1998 and 2017, and that rate of growth continues.    

Making purchases online may be the new normal, but having packages stolen from your porch should not be. As residential package delivery grows, so does the need for consumers to be vigilant against porch theft.

Watch our video below for ways in which UPS can help protect households against the risk of porch theft.

What is a porch pirate?

Porch pirates steal packages left on your doorstep. The majority of U.S. households have packages delivered to their homes on a regular basis, so the opportunities for porch pirates to strike are plentiful.  

Many people associate porch theft with the holiday season, but the reality is not so straightforward. Porch piracy certainly spikes when more packages are delivered in the end-of-year rush, but the threat is present throughout the year. “Porch theft is a crime of opportunity that can happen year-round,” says Dan O’Connor, U.S. network manager for UPS Access Point® network.  

While installing home security systems is certainly a preventative measure, it doesn’t necessarily stop porch pirates, because they can be on and off your property in a flash. Although the video footage may help determine what happened and help authorities ultimately apprehend the thief, it does not change the fact your package got taken without permission.

In any event, the challenge of porch theft is certainly getting more attention these days in what is a booming time for e-commerce. The total volume of packages shipped globally continues to rise, with UPS alone moving 5.2 billion packages and documents worldwide in 2018. Shoppers are increasingly comfortable shopping online. 85% of U.S. consumers surveyed for the 2018 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ survey expressed satisfaction with their e-commerce experience.  

But how you receive your packages can be as important as the experience of online shopping itself. Porch theft is problematic on several levels, including:

  • The uncertainty of receiving a notification that your package has been delivered but not being able to find it. Is it somewhere else on your premises, did it get stolen, or did a neighbor take it in for safe keeping?
  • The inconvenience and lost time of trying to track your package down.  
  • The emotional distress of knowing that trespassers may have set foot on your property.  
  • The potential cost of replacing a missing package or stolen goods.

Package theft prevention

Luckily, there are ways of keeping packages safe from theft. O’Connor points to the UPS My Choice® and UPS Access Point® programs. “They give you control, convenience, and the ability to choose when and where your packages are delivered," he explains. These programs are specifically designed to provide visibility to the consumer and allow them to manage their delivery process, making home deliveries easier and more convenient.

 UPS My Choice service offers customers real-time tracking of single or multiple packages, alongside estimated time of delivery within a user-friendly calendar view.  

 "Once a member is enrolled, UPS My Choice texts or emails are sent to let the receiver know their packages are on the way,” says Carla Anderson, senior product manager for UPS My Choice service. UPS My Choice members can provide delivery instructions to their UPS driver, such as requesting the package be left on the back porch or with a neighbor. They can also redirect their package to another pickup location, including pickup through the UPS Access Point network.

Locking out porch pirates

Rerouting a delivery for pickup at a convenient location is a great way to keep packages safe and secure, and customers signed up for UPS My Choice service enjoy a high degree of control over exactly where to receive their delivery.

When a customer decides to make a change to the place of delivery, the UPS Access Point network provides a selection of alternate delivery options, from The UPS Store® locations and branded UPS® lockers to independent businesses such as pharmacies, dry cleaners, and convenience stores.   

"You can pick a location close to your home, close to your office, or on the way between the two,” says O’Connor. “Also, when you select the location that you want your package to be sent to, you are presented with the operating hours of the locations available. Choose a pickup location with operating hours that suit you.”  

In addition, a growing number of UPS shippers are offering their customers the option to “ship to a UPS Access Point” location at the point of online purchase. "The consumer can select the preferable UPS Access Point location for picking up their package rather than having it left on the porch," he explains.

Reporting a missing or stolen package

What happens if you receive a notification saying “UPS delivered” but there's no package on your porch? How do you report a missing or stolen package to UPS? And who is responsible for initiating a claim if a UPS package is stolen?

“Inform your shipper, who can notify UPS to initiate a claim,” says Anderson. “UPS will work with the consumer to collect all the details and help with the filing.”  

In the event a package is believed to be stolen, the receiver may consider getting local law enforcement involved. For customers with porch security cameras in place, the footage can be helpful in determining exactly what happened and when.

Further protection for your packages

When it comes to shipping packages, the security of knowing a delivery is covered against loss or damage can be invaluable.

Shippers already have a basic level of cover in place when sending parcels with UPS. UPS will reimburse up to $100 for loss or damage without further charge. Additional declared value can be purchased, up to a total value of $50,000 per package. For extra peace of mind, consider taking out parcel insurance to further protect shipments in the event things don't go to plan.

Despite the best precautions of everyone, package theft can still happen. As such, we're always exploring new ways of protecting your packages at point of delivery.

Technology has a large role to play here. Take Latch's smart access devices that allow your UPS delivery driver to get inside the front door of a multi-family residential unit, such as an apartment building, and leave packages inside of a secure lobby out of temptation's way. "It's a good example of using technology to reduce the risk of package theft," O'Connor says.  

With an estimated 20 million multi-family residential units in the United States, that's a lot of potential households that can benefit from solutions such as Latch.

Beating porch pirates at their game

Online shipping should be a seamless experience, from ordering through final delivery. Wherever you live, use the tools available to you, from the thousands of convenient pick-up locations offered through the UPS Access Point network to secure lobby delivery with Latch.

Don't let porch pirates get their hands on your packages. Sign up for UPS My Choice service today and take control over how, when, and where your packages get delivered.  

This is for informational purposes only.  It does not constitute legal advice – please consult with your own legal counsel for such advice. Also, do not rely on this information without performing your own research.

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