How To Deter 'Porch Pirates' This Black Friday

As the holiday season approaches, shopping and online sale events dominate our lives.

The U.S. Postal Service reported in January this year that 13.2 billion pieces of mail were sent between Thanksgiving and New Year.

But if you're ordering Christmas gifts or getting hold of some great Black Friday deals, there is one thing you should be wary of—"porch pirates."

Home safety company SimpliSafe revealed this week that 45 percent of online shoppers say they have had packages stolen from their front porch or home.

Package on display outside door
A file photo of a parcel left outside on a front door step in the rain, exposed. As more packages are ordered in the run up to the holidays, we've put together top tips for preventing porch pirates. WoodysPhotos/Getty Images

In a survey conducted by Pollfish in October 2022, 1,000 American adults aged 18 and older were questioned about their package delivery. Security.org also conducted an online survey of 18,437 adults from all U.S. states about their experiences of package theft in the last 12 months.

This research found that 49 million Americans have had at least one package stolen in the last 12 months, with the median value of stolen items recorded as $50.

Brenda Bynarowicz, senior vice president of marketing at SimpliSafe, told Newsweek: "Package theft can have a significant impact on people and is more than just a nuisance or minor inconvenience—it can be particularly devasting in some circumstances. For example, a porch pirate could target a package containing critical medication from an online pharmacy or a one-of-a-kind heirloom that is irreplaceable."

Travelers Insurance also reports an uptick in theft claims around the holidays. In data based on an analysis of Travelers Personal Insurance claims from 2011-2021, they reported 28 percent more theft claims on premises around Cyber Monday, likely due to so-called porch pirates.

When online shopping this season, there are a few tips you can follow to prevent theft:

Schedule your delivery when you'll be home

Most stores share an estimated arrival date for your package. If you have the option to reschedule for a time you will definitely be at home, this is the safest way to receive your package.

Ship your parcel elsewhere

If you're not likely to be home, it is a good idea to have your purchase shipped to your local post office, courier checkpoint, or even at a friend or family member's home to collect later.

Provide clear instructions for carriers

If you have the option to provide package instructions, add these to your delivery—particularly if you won't be there to accept your goods. This can ensure your package is left out of sight from the road or sidewalk.

Think about home security

A doorbell camera is a great way to keep an eye on your front porch even when you're not at home. Most systems allow you to speak to the person on the other side and record movement so you can easily report the theft to authorities.

"As we shop more on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and for the holiday season, package theft increases. But the good news is you can minimize the impact by taking a few simple steps, like scheduling your delivery for when you're home, getting to know your delivery person, and installing a video doorbell or outdoor camera," suggested Bynarowicz.

According to data from Parks Associates, by the end of 2021, 37 percent of U.S. households owned a smart home device, with 15 percent owning a video doorbell and 11 percent with a smart door lock fitted.

"While not fool-proof, a strategically placed home security camera is a great way to ensure you're retrieving important deliveries before they have the time to get stolen," said Bynarowicz. "Additionally, the two-way audio feature of many video doorbells allows customers to communicate to package carriers where to leave important packages."