Bye, Bye Porch Pirates! Prevent Package Theft With These Simple Tips…

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Amazon boxes on front porch with Christmas mail box

Not today, porch pirates!

Unfortunately, package theft is becoming a widespread problem in neighborhoods all across the country.  It’s even more of an issue at this time of year, when so many people are doing their Christmas shopping online.

Thankfully, there are lots of precautions you can take to reduce the risk that you will have packages stolen from your doorstep. While some of them require an investment of either money or effort, many of these strategies are completely FREE and require just a little bit of advance planning.

Here are some of the best tips to prevent package theft and get your gifts delivered securely this holiday season!

Target Pickup Order

1. Opt for in-store pick-up.

Many retailers with brick and mortar locations will allow you to choose in-store pick-up rather than having your online order shipped to your home. This costs you nothing, and can even help you avoid paying shipping charges in most cases!

person receiving USP hand delivery

2. Have packages delivered to an alternate address.

If you’re not usually home during the day to receive deliveries, you may want to consider having your packages delivered to your workplace or another location where a trusted friend can receive it on your behalf. Try asking a family member who lives nearby, or even a neighbor who works from home.

FedEx package on porch

3. Ask a trusted neighbor to keep watch.

If you’re expecting a package to be delivered to your home and you know you can’t be there to receive it, consider asking a trusted neighbor to watch for it.

If you can ask someone who’s normally home during the day, they’ll more than likely be happy to watch for your package and keep it inside their home until you can pick it up after work!

woman getting package from Amazon Locker

4. Use pick-up lockers

Some retailers like Amazon and Costco now allow customers the option to pick up select online purchases from secure lockers.

Costco’s lockers are located inside the warehouse near the entrance in most locations, while Amazon has lockers at a wide variety of locations such as convenience stores and Whole Foods Markets.

woman dressed for winter looking at smartphone

5. Set up notifications to track your package.

Services like UPS My Choice and FedEx Delivery Manager can notify you as soon as a label is initiated for your address, allowing you to track it all the way to the point of delivery. You can also use these services to re-route packages to another delivery point or request that the carrier leaves your package in a more secure or hidden location.

Although UPS My Choice and FedEx Delivery Manager are both free to join, some of the services offered require an upgraded membership for an additional cost.

The USPS also offers a free service called Informed Delivery, which allows you to see an actual image of the mail you can expect to receive each day. You can also see a list of the packages that are scheduled to be delivered with your mail that day.

Man wrapping gift to ship via USPS

6. Give your recipient a heads-up.

Before shipping gifts to friends and family, let them know that they have a parcel coming and ask them if there’s an alternate address where they’d like to have it delivered. Once the package has shipped, provide your recipient with the tracking information so they can keep an eye out for it!

woman getting a FedEx package at Walgreens

7. Use an alternate pick-up location.

Both FedEx and UPS have access points at select retailers like Walmart, grocery stores, pharmacies, and office supply stores. Having a package shipped to one of these access points means that it will be kept safe until you can pick it up at your convenience.

Check out this post to learn more about using FedEx and UPS access points to both receive and send packages!

One member of the Hip2Save Facebook group shared that they live in a rural community where the USPS won’t even deliver the mail, and carriers like UPS and FedEx struggle to get up the mountain in bad weather. In addition to having a P.O. box, this reader made arrangements for carriers to deliver packages to a nearby business on the main road as necessary.

UPS delivering package to home at the holidays

8. Require a signature on delivery.

Most carriers offer the option to require a signature upon delivery. This is a delivery protection feature that may be required by the shipper, or one that you can request for your own peace of mind.

This service will likely require additional fees, and someone will obviously need to be present to sign for the package. It may be worth the additional cost and inconvenience though, especially in situations where your package is either very valuable or irreplaceable.

Mother and daughter packaging gift to ship via UPS

9. Insure your most valuable packages

Check with your carrier before taking this step, because packages valued at less than $100 may already be covered by select carriers. If you’re shipping something more valuable, purchasing this extra layer of protection will allow you to file a claim and recover the value of a lost or stolen parcel.

Man looking inside PO Box

10. Get a PO Box.

Despite the free options available to help ensure the safe delivery of packages, some people still prefer to have their deliveries sent directly to a PO Box at the post office. If your local post office offers Premium PO Box Services, they will hold any packages too large to fit in your PO Box until you can pick them up.

The smallest PO Box costs $92 a year, or you can opt to pay $26 for three months. This would be more than enough time to get you through the holiday shopping season, when you’re more likely to have lots of packages delivered.

Amazon Key

11. Use a smart lock.

Smart locks allow keyless entry into your home so that you can let people in while you’re away. Although it would require a significant level of trust, this means that you could arrange to have packages delivered inside your home or garage, rather than risk having them taken from your doorstep.

Amazon Key is one service that works with smart locks through a mobile app. Prime members in select areas can use Amazon Key to opt for in-home delivery of their Amazon purchases.

Ring Video Doorbell 2 in doorway

12. Install a security camera.

The internet is littered with shameful videos of porch pirates getting caught in the act, and it’s often thanks to doorbell cameras like Ring and Google Nest. If a potential thief notices a doorbell camera installed in plain sight, they may decide to leave your packages alone rather than risk having their grinchy misdeeds go viral.

If someone is brazen enough to swipe your stuff under the watchful eye of a security camera, at least you will have evidence to share with the police.

Amazon boxes on porch

Speaking of law enforcement, here are some steps you can take if you do have a package stolen:

    1. Contact the sender. Many retailers have a policy in place to handle these situations, and they may be able to provide you with a replacement (depending on your situation). If you were expecting a package from a friend or family member, you’ll want to let them know as well so they can begin the process of filing a claim.
    2. Contact the carrier. Different carriers have different procedures for dealing with package theft, and they all seem to require a certain degree of patience. Depending on the carrier, you may eventually be compensated for your loss, but you might get quicker results and a better outcome by contacting the sender first.
    3. File a police report. If you’re confident that someone stole your package, you can file a police report. While you may not get your package back, you could provide your police department with valuable information to help them combat the widespread issue of package theft in your area.

Thank your delivery drivers during the holiday season with this fun idea!

About the writer:

Jenna has a Bachelor's Degree from Lycoming College and her Master's from Penn State, holding 4 years of writing experience between a variety of publications and Hip2Save.

Join The Discussion

Comments 29

  1. Jen

    You can update your general Amazon delivery instructions for where to leave packages. All of my packages are left around back by my garage. Works great!

    • Hipgrandma

      Only if they actually follow the instructions. Never worked for my kids in Detroit

    • Amy

      Can you tell where on Amazon this is at? UPS is leaving my packages on my steps, I only have 4 right next to city sidewalk, I have contacted Amazon twice, they said wouldn’t happen again but it did.

  2. Mary Anne

    Great tips!

  3. Rosalia

    If you have UPS store near you, you can have your packages delivered there instead. There isn’t a fee, but you need a UPS account. I do this often. You can even set it up to where UPS packages will automatically be sent to the Ups store of your choice. So you don’t have to do it for each individual shipment.

  4. Matt

    I like the “ask a neighbor to look out for you” idea. I’d be asking my neighbors 7 days a week to look out for me! Haha

  5. C dav

    With Amazon you can also set your deliveries to be a preferred day…I haven’t tried but is Saturday an option?

    • Lauren

      Yep! Saturday is my delivery day! And you get $1 no rush credit for every item you select that option for!

  6. llc

    I heard an advertisement on the radio i think about Amazon leaving them in the garage. So they need a certain door opener to be compatible. Im in Houston, TX.

  7. megbee

    The Amazon lockers are a great option. I use them frequently for deliveries.

  8. Debbie

    My husband has a 2019 Ford F150 and Amazon sent him an email that they can setup a code and unlock his truck and put packages in it.

    • Rebecca

      I would never be comfortable with that.

      • erin

        I would be much more comfortable letting them put it in my car than in my house or even my garage! At least there’s nothing in my car to really worry about being stolen. You have to be MUCH more trusting to let them open your front door or garage door to put your package inside :-O

  9. Betsy

    I do not like that they don’t ring your doorbell when they deliver boxes. Today twice I had Amazon and FedEx deliver items and neither times did they ring my doorbell so I didn’t know the boxes were there until I opened my door to leave. That’s frustrating as I’m home often, but if they don’t ring the doorbell can’t retrieve the boxes in a timely manner.

    • karen

      I set up an alert in my amazon acct. and Alexa so when they deliver/scan I get a notification. I don’t like them ringing the doorbell

      • youhadmeatyummy

        I notice this tend to be delayed by an hour.

      • dblD amber

        Same, I dont like the doorbell ringing. Especially since sometimes it may be 4-5 times a day in the Xmas season .

    • Rebecca

      Same! I get notifications but they are often delayed. It takes like a second so I don’t know why they don’t ring the bell! Especially when cars are in driveway.

    • coupongirl1210

      Lol, I am actually the opposite! With napping little ones in the house I usually end up wishing they wouldn’t ring the doorbell! Although now that you mention it, it’s been sometime since they have rung the door bell.

    • tipaye

      Drivers are advised to not ring the bell after 8pm, if you are receiving later deliveries this could be why.

  10. Sharon

    Luckily my dog alerts me when anyone pulls in the driveway or comes up the the porch steps to drop off a package. That and someone knocking on the door are the only times she ever barks.

  11. Barb M

    I shipped something to my son in College, It was stolen off of his doorstep. ( Easter gifts) Shipping cost me $18. on top of the gifts. When you ship priority, insurance is free up to $50. Well, you MUST have receipts for EVERYTHING! However, if the mailman says it is delivered to their doorstep, then it is delivered. If it is stolen, it is not their responsibility. It would be GREAT if they rang the doorbell or knocked when they deliver something. Lesson Learned. If your child is off to college, always send the package to the apartment complex office.

  12. madisongriffis

    I liove our mail guy, he usually shoves our packages up under the couch on our porch if its small enough:P he also will usually knock on the door. We aren’t always home, but our mail doesnt run until 3-4 so we can try and get home early on days packages are expected if the box will be too big to hide.

  13. Jodi P

    The price of a PO BOX varies, so check with your local post office for their prices.

  14. Stephanie

    We have a Ring but still had a package stolen. Since then I keep a really large empty planter pot by the front door with a small sign inside to deposit smaller packages in it. It helps. I think the delivery folks are getting better at hiding packages when they are easily able to!
    If you do have a package stolen I would file a police report and also report it on NextDoor and the Ring app if you have Ring. Post your video! From my camera you could see just the very back of the thief’s car, and then my neighbors were able to identify the car as it drove away. The police ended up knowing exactly who it was. The officer that came to my home told me he had seem the video I posted and the ones my neighbors posted.

  15. lily

    Christmas season is coming! Make sure to leave the house lights turned on during the night while you are out.

    • Sher

      I second that!

  16. Jerry

    These are great tips. Thank you very much! I have it set up that when I get any delivery, I get a notification via my phone. I then call a neighbor to come to my house and keep the package for me until I get home. Works for everyone in the neighborhood.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re so welcome, Jerry! Glad this list was helpful!

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