Tips for stopping porch pirates

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We had a package stolen last week and sent a video to the police. It sort of looked like an inside job- a guy pulls into the driveway 45 minutes after UPS, has a note in his hand that he refers to, and picks from among the four packages on the porch to only take the one that had $150 headphones in it.
Most frustrating is all the delivery people have to do is ring our doorbell, as a sign on our doors asks them to do. We’re home all the time. None of them bother though.


My advice, station a learn-from-home student by the door. My home learner has a whole routine of waving at carriers as they walk up, waiting til they are walking away and then opening the door to shout thank you. I know instantly when any mail arrives (also when there are funny squirrels nearby, or when we are running low on snack food, or that the desk chair is uncomfortable…)


Or look at today’s new video by Mark Rober:


Have had mine sent to work for a bunch of years, at my current office, mail comes straight to me first. I ordered something from Etsy, not realizing the address they had was from my last office. Face masks, could have been a lot worse…


Supposedly, but my recent experience with UPS is not encouraging on that front. Delayed for ‘severe weather’ for 4 days, localized to a location about 3km from my house where the weather has been quite pleasant for December, multiple ‘delivery scheduled’ notifications with no show, a random no-knock delivery ‘attempt’ while showing on tracking as ‘delayed due to operating conditions’. Then when they did deliver it they tried to collect the COD that had already been paid online over a week earlier. Yeah, I’ll not be trusting your app thanks.

I live on a quiet crescent in a sleepy suburb well off the beaten path where there’s very little theft, so I haven’t bothered here, but at my old house on a busy street with lots of foot traffic I just had things delivered to a pick up point and went there to get it myself. Contemplating starting to do that again after that last ‘2-5 day’ delivery that took 12 days to show up.


Unhand those premium snacks, you ruffian.


If you are rich(1), go to live in a condo with a porter/janitor.
If you can get package delivered to the nearest post office, or bookshop(2)

(1) It’s not actually to expensive because the pay to the porter is spread to all apartment owners
(2) I live near a publisher bookshop and ordering online in this case simply put the order almost like it was from the clerk: if the books are in the bookshop you get a notice that they are ready to pick quickly. Works similarly for home electronics.

We live on a busy foot and auto traffic street that has a parking lane (ideal access for porch pirates). Our regular UPS guy and Amazon gal take every package to the back deck (as instructed). USPS just leaves things on the front porch, fortunately our regular carrier has a really shitty and loud old Jeep. FedEx is just frustration - every delivery is supposed to go to the back deck, every one of them gets left on the front porch. Their app sends updates very quickly, so nothing has been stollen from their deliveries in quite a while.


Big problem here as well. The other day I had a package that was sitting there for an entire day because the delivery person was like a ninja. My home office looks out on the porch, yet somehow he placed it and slipped away without my noticing. A neighbor called to let me know it was sitting there, which was very kind. USPS always rings, and UPS usually does, but Amazon is using more and more of those shady contractors in unmarked vans. It’s all a little disturbing.


My Brother has a small business that used UPS a LOT. They had a UPS person stop by daily just in case they need to ship something out. So everyone who lived for about 4-5 blocks around realized they could ship out from the shop, and also have packages dropped at the shop. The extra volume meant my brother didn’t have to pay extra for the daily visit, UPS liked it because it was consistent business, and all the neighbors benefited. A win/win/win. Since Covid my brother is shipping less so he’s stopped the daily UPS service, but several people on the block still have packages dropped at his shop. If you live in a city it might be worth asking a local business if you can make an arrangement.


I have found that amazon is hit or miss; I have one of those parcel boxes, and access instructions are on file with amazon. Yet, sometimes stuff will be in the box, and other times, it’ll be behind the box. Or on the front porch. It’s random.


Are Porch Pirates a phenomenon exclusive to the US?

I’m not aware of it happening in Ireland or the UK but I can’t speak to the European mainland.


Big problem in Canada too. I’d imagine it would be a problem anywhere boxes get left unattended in publically accessible places. Theives gonna theive.

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For a few months I lived in an apartment where you were emailed a one time access code to access a special room to receive packages. The problem was sometimes packages were bundled with one code and the room was a mess. So you couldn’t always find your package or you would miss one package but no longer have an access code. There were a few time where you got down there and realized you needed to get a friend or dolly to get it upstairs, but you can’t just come back to the room. I’m not sure what prevented people from taking other packages—you did have to sign in and they took a photo.

I’m not sure what they had before. I assume the front office held packages and you picked them up during business hours.

I have a niece who, because of addiction issues, started doing porch theft.

She calls people who leave packages out “donors”.

The number of delivery ninjas is pretty amazing. I, too, have an office looking into the front yard, and yet I somehow miss them pulling up on the regular.

Even more amazing (or perhaps damning for my video doorbell), sometimes they pull this off without triggering the motion detection somehow.

I’ve found signing up for each of the big courier’s accounts has been useful - most will send a “your package has been delivered” email shortly after tracking is updated. Better than nothing.


Why not be a pirate yerself?

Dig a hole in your front garden, let the carrier drop the package in and cover it up. Use your treasure map to locate the spot, and dig it up!


I would think if you have instructions on file with Amazon and they don’t use the box then the delivery should not be considered complete. Sounds like the “box” records the transaction, so should be possible. It surprises me Amazon is not more devoted to resolving this problem.

It’s nothing more than a hinged, steel box bolted to the concrete. The only electronics in it are for a very simple keypad and lock release relay. I’ve given thought to putting sensors on it to trigger a noise or notification into a smarthome system when it’s been opened, but that’s more effort than I want to deal with at the moment. :smiley:

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