Each year, thefts hit an all-time high during the holiday season. People everywhere are desperate to find gifts for their loved ones, and the sheer amount of people with expensive goods in their cars or on their porch is too tempting for criminals to resist.
But we live in 2020, and nobody should have to put up with porch pirates and other miscreants. Smart home surveillance systems are one of the easiest ways to fight back. Tap or click here to see how many of these products were on display at CES this year.
If you’re tired of packages getting stolen before you can pick them up, there are a few methods you can use to secure them. Here are the easiest ways to stop porch pirates in their tracks.
1. Install Wi-Fi security cams on your front porch and set up break-in notifications
Good news: You don’t have to break the bank for a reliable security system. Plus, high-quality cameras come with apps you can set into your phone. This way, you’ll get a text or email alert whenever the camera detects motion.
If a person walks up to your front door and peers through the window, you’ll be notified. Whenever glass breaks in your house, you’ll be notified. With a smartphone or a computer, these cameras allow you to view live feeds over the internet, essential for home security, surveillance or keeping an eye on children or pets.
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SimpliSafe lets you access your home camera right on your mobile device anytime, anywhere. With SimpliSafe, you get a push or text alert whenever your system detects activity — whether it’s outside your door or inside your house.
With your SimpliSafe camera setup, you’ll know exactly when deliveries arrive, what time family members return home and even what the dog is up to. It’s a great way to ensure that your packages (and home) are safe as they can be.
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2. Get a video doorbell and catch thieves in the act
Video doorbells are an easy way to keep your home more secure. Once installed, you can peep outside through a connected smartphone app and get alerts when motion is detected in front of your door. You can even access your camera remotely using cellular data on your phone.
Amazon’s video doorbell brand, Ring, is one of the most popular on the market thanks to its easy setup and compatibility with Alexa. And just in time for the holidays, you can pick up a bundle featuring a Ring doorbell and Echo Show device for less than $200.
But, make sure you don’t get tricked by low prices. There are many low-quality cameras out there, so if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. A good doorbell camera is worth the investment.
They’re a useful security camera that can give you some much-needed peace of mind. However, the security they provide will only go so far. That’s why you should take advantage of Amazon’s tracking features.
3. Get delivery photos so you know where your package is — or specify where you want the boxes placed
When you check out at Amazon or other online retailers, you can tell the delivery person exactly where you want your packages. When you check out, there will be a text box for specific instructions. Here, you can write notes like, “Please place on the chair outside,” or other instructions you may want.
Already put in your order? No problem: You can add instructions to an order you already placed. Just tap on My Orders, and you can edit the order to your heart’s content.
Here’s another great feature to take advantage of: If Amazon delivers a package when you aren’t home, the delivery-person will sometimes photograph its location.
If you get emails when your packages are delivered, the photo will be included. To see delivery photos from your desktop, hover your mouse over Account & Lists and click Orders. If you click on Track Package next to an order, you’ll see if an image was taken. On the mobile app, tap the three-line icon in the menu at the bottom of your screen, followed by Your Orders. Tap an order to track it.
Checking delivery photos can help you put the pieces together and figure out what happened to your packages. Combined with a video doorbell, it’s a surefire way to catch thieves in the act.
Just keep in mind that not all orders include a photo. They’re taken at the discretion of the delivery person.
And if you don’t like Amazon photographing the outside of your home, you can always opt-out of delivery photos. Contact Amazon customer support at 1 (888) 280-4331 and request that AMZL Photo on Delivery be disabled for your account.
4. Stow your packages in your garage with Amazon Key
One of Amazon’s most popular delivery methods is Amazon Key, which lets your delivery driver drop off packages inside your gate, garage or home. In-house delivery isn’t available right now because of the pandemic, but you can still take advantage of in-garage delivery.
To use in-garage delivery, you’ll need two things: A garage-door opener compatible with the myQ app and a Prime membership.
This smart garage door opener hub from Chamberlain works with any garage door opener made after 1993 that has standard safety sensors.
Now that you’ve got the equipment you need, here’s how to set it up:
- Download and log into the Key app for iOS or Android with your Amazon.com credentials.
- You should see a screen that says, Let’s get started. On this screen, select Set up a Residence.
- Follow the on-screen instructions. You’ll see a screen for linking your myQ account and a list of all garage door openers associated with your myQ account. If you haven’t set up your garage door opener in the myQ app, open the app and follow the on-screen instructions.
- After following the instructions and activating your device, you can enable in-garage delivery. You’ll see in-garage delivery ship options at checkout on Amazon when you ship to the address enabled in the Key app.
Prime members can sign up for the Amazon Key and get a $30 myQ garage opener.
5. Pick a secure shipping location
This year, Amazon encourages shoppers to have their goods shipped to alternative locations besides their home addresses. The reason? A huge surge in online shopping may cause delays before the holidays.
Tap or click here to see what Amazon wants shoppers to do.
Fortunately, Amazon’s alternative delivery methods are a great way to protect packages from sticky fingers. Try any of these methods out for a safer way to get your deliveries.
- Amazon Hub: Amazon has several designated pickup and dropoff locations for users. This includes self-serve Amazon Locker kiosks, which keep your deliveries under lock and key and select retail locations. Tap or click here to visit Amazon Hub’s homepage to find a location near you.
- Amazon Books: You can ship your deliveries to Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores. Store employees will hold your items, so you don’t have to worry about any neighbors making off with them. Tap or click here to visit Amazon’s retail homepage to find a location.
- Amazon 4-star: Amazon’s new department store chain that only sells trending items rated 4-stars or higher. These stores can be found in malls across the country and will also accept and hold your packages. Tap or click here to visit Amazon’s retail homepage to find a location near you.
To have your order sent to an alternative delivery location, search and select the most convenient spot when prompted at checkout. You’ll choose an Amazon Hub or a retail store instead of your home address for delivery.
Once your package has been delivered, you’ll receive an e-mail notification with details about your order. You’ll have between three and 15 days to pick up your order, depending on the location.
6. Set up an Amazon Day you can always rely on
Front door theft typically happens when you’re not at home. If you know which days you’ll be available to receive your orders, you can set up a dedicated “Amazon Day” when all your deliveries arrive.
The service is available for free to Prime members. To set up an Amazon Day, choose it as a delivery option during checkout. You’ll specify the day of the week you want your orders to arrive. Your orders, no matter what shipping time is available, will now only arrive on Amazon Days.
Amazon Days are predictable and easy to plan around. Plus, if you’re home, you can keep track of your deliveries using your video doorbell camera.
Want a refund or a redo of your stolen order? Tap or click here to see 5 insider pro tips for shopping on Amazon.We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.