Porch Pirates: What now?

Posted by Del R on

What to do if your online purchase was stolen from your doorstep or apartment? 

Most of the people who shop online either have had something stolen or are likely to have it happen in the future.  It is an unfortunate side-effect of the online shopping phenomenon.   

Generally, once the package is delivered it is the responsibility of the homeowner or shopper.   Most online retailers have updated their Terms & Conditions to ensure they are not responsible for anything that happens after the package has left their site. 

So what do you do about it? 

  • Check with the delivery company.   Was it delivered to your address or a neighbor by mistake?   Are there photos from the delivery company showing the package on your property? 
  • If you or your neighbors have security cameras or photos, see if there is anything there to show a person taking the package. 
  • File a report with the local police or CrimeStoppers.   The value of the delivery is usually low, so there is a possibility that unless there are multiple thefts in the area it may be difficult to identify the suspect or too low-value for the police to press charges (if they can identify a suspect). 
  • Report the theft to the retailer where you bought the item.   Sometimes Amazon, eBay or other major retailers will refund or replace the item.   They don't want the theft to prevent you from buying in the future.   The number of incidents is growing every year, so many retailers are becoming more restrictive about what they will or will not cover. 
  • Report it to your credit card agency.   Some cards include insurance coverage for items lost, stolen or damaged within the first 30-90 days of purchase.  Again, the number of claims is increasing, so many credit card agencies are changing their policies to become more restrictive about what they will or will not cover. 
  • Report it to your home insurance provider.  The home policy deductible is usually so high that it is unlikely this will be worthwhile.   Also, confirm with your insurance agency or broker about how a claim could impact your rates or future insurability.   

How to prevent it in the future? 

  • Many people recommend buying surveillance cameras.   These can help after a theft has occurred, but it doesn't mean you will get your item back.  You would need to provide the surveillance footage to the police and frequently the police will be unable to identify the suspect unless that person is already a known offender.   
    "Caught on Video: Police searching for porch pirate after package stolen in Mississauga"

    "Are deliveries to your home making you an easy target for break and enters?"

    "Porch pirates: Your home delivery may be stolen"
  • If you do buy a camera, don't hide it.   Seeing a camera makes it more likely that the would-be thief will walk away and leave your package untouched.   Have the camera somewhere visible and/or put up signs indicating security cameras are in use. 
  • Ship to a friend or neighbor that will be available to accept the package. 
  • Ship to your workplace. 
    (Note: many workplaces are now getting so many packages that they are putting rules into place banning employees from doing this.  Check with your employer policies first.) 
  • Require a signature to prove delivery.   This has other side-effects.   A delivery driver may need to make 3-5 attempts to complete the delivery.  This increases the delivery costs and also environmental impact.   
  • Opt-in for shipping insurance.   It may be more costly, but it is usually a fraction of the full replacement cost of the purchase. 
  • Buy a parcel locker.  https://www.preventpackagetheft.com/the-5-best-parcel-boxes-to-buy-in-2018

Other options to prevent it? 

Amazon package under a welcome mat


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