Have you ever been victimized by "porch thieves" AKA "porch pirates" AKA "porch robbers"? You know the type; they roam neighborhood streets and steal delivered packages off a home's front door or porch.
It's a growing epidemic and a real concern for online shoppers. In fact, a report from Package Guard claims that 11 million U.S. homeowners have had packages stolen from their doorsteps in the last year.
With people increasingly opting to shop online, expect these numbers to go up. This will definitely leave plenty of opportunities for these porch thieves to scope out items left by delivery services like UPS, FedEx, and the USPS.
To help combat such dastardly deeds, here are six options you can try to stop getting victimized and have that extra peace of mind when you shop online.
1. Amazon Locker
Here's a safe way to receive your packages - you can ship them to your nearby Amazon Locker.
What are Amazon Lockers? They're basically self-serve delivery kiosks located in more than 2,000 spots across 50 U.S. cities. You can ship an item to an Amazon Locker of your choice and then pick it up at a time that's convenient for you.
To ship to an Amazon Locker, simply find your closest Locker location while logged in to your Amazon account then add it to your shipping address book. Now, each time you check out an item, you can select your chosen Locker as your shipping address.
Once an item has been delivered to the Locker, Amazon will email you the unique six-digit code you'll use to retrieve it. Just enter the code on the Locker's touchscreen interface, wait for the Locker door to open then simply pick up your package.
Note that although most items can be shipped to Amazon Lockers, there are still size and weight restrictions and you only have three calendar days to pick it up or it will be returned to Amazon for a refund.
There is no additional cost for using an Amazon Locker either but standard shipping rates (including free Amazon Prime two-day shipping) still apply.
2. Amazon Key
Amazon's novel solution to the porch pirate problem is a service called Amazon Key. This service will literally open your front door and allow delivery people to drop off your packages inside your home.
Amazon Key requires the $249.99 Amazon Key In-Home Kit, which includes the Amazon Cloud Cam, a compatible smart lock from Kwikset or Yale, plus free installation.
Here's how it works:
- Place an Amazon order then select "FREE in-home delivery" at checkout. On delivery day, you'll receive a phone notification in the morning and another one when the delivery person arrives at your address.
- The delivery person will always knock at your door first, then requests access by scanning the barcode, sending the unlock request to Amazon's servers.
- Amazon verifies the delivery person's identity, turns on the Cloud Cam to record then opens your door to grant access. (At this point, you can also watch the whole delivery process live.)
- The delivery person will then drop your package just inside your front door. Once the drop-off is complete, another request is sent to relock your door.
- Once the delivery person confirms that your door is locked, Amazon will send you a notification that the delivery is complete.
If you're not keen on having a complete stranger open your front door, or if you have pets, then this service is probably not for you.
3. Ship to your office
Another trick is to ship your packages to your work location and let your office mailroom handle them. This is a good option if your local delivery routes usually drop off packages during the day.
However, evening and weekend deliveries can be an issue though so it's not a fool-proof plan. You're also at the mercy of your mailroom people so make sure you trust them well enough.
You can ship your packages to your office address by visiting the "Manage Addresses and 1-Click Settings" in Your Account.
Just click "Enter a new address" and put in the details. For security reasons, you will be asked to confirm your credit card each time you place an order using a new or edited address.
Note: You can also delete or edit any saved address you have in this section.
4. Delivery Instructions
If your delivery is from Amazon's own delivery service (Amazon Logistics), you can provide them with delivery instructions via Your Orders. Here, you can specify the drop-off point per order (front door, back door, porch, etc.) and any applicable gate access codes. Note: You can also save your access codes via Manage Address Book.
If you are a property manager, you can use Amazon Secured Delivery Access Tool to specify delivery instructions for your building or compound. You can specify preferred hours of delivery, security access codes (including gate and locker codes) and your general Primary Delivery Point.
Again, these instructions will only apply to Amazon's own delivery services and not for third-party shippers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS.
However, if you know your local mailman or your regular UPS/FedEx delivery person, you can personally ask them to always drop your packages at a specific location.
Note: Amazon Logistics have also started rolling out its “Amazon Logistics Photo On Delivery” program. This service involves the delivery driver taking a picture of the package once it has been dropped off. Click here to read more about this new service.
5. Trust your neighbors
There's nothing like a community effort to stop thieves from targeting your neighborhood. If you trust your neighbor, you can ask them to mutually look after your packages. You can ask them to hold any packages that arrive at your front door if no one's home and you'll do the same for them.
This will keep packages from piling on your doorsteps - a big red bullseye for porch pirates.
6. Install security cameras
Another way to deter porch thieves is via the presence of security cameras. Set these up to keep an eye on key areas of your home, like your front door or patio. Hopefully, if would-be thieves spot your security cameras, they wouldn't even dare attempt to swipe your packages.
And if your packages do get stolen, you can always review your camera's footage and use it to identify the culprit.
Another option is to get a whole home security package like the Simplisafe home security system. In conjunction with its wireless cameras, called SimpliCams, you can protect your whole home from both porch pirates, burglars, and break-ins. SimpliSafe offers a multi-layered, wireless home security system that does a lot more than sound an alarm when an intruder breaks in. It does that with a super-loud siren, but it goes deeper with SimpliCam, a panic button, motion sensors and a whole lot more.
So what are the steps to get a refund if porch pirates steal your Amazon packages?
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself, but if it happens to you, you need to know what to do. Here are your options.