One unfortunate side-effect of our modern buy-everything-online lifestyle – package theft. A box or pile of boxes left sitting on your front step makes an easy target for “porch pirates,” some of whom follow delivery trucks and scoop up packages moments after they’re dropped off.
This has turned into a serious problem. According to a recent study, nearly one-third of Americans have had a package stolen from outside their home. So what can do you? How can you deter these thieves? Let’s take a look at some of the best options.
Sign up for Amazon Key
Amazon clearly has a vested interest in making sure their packages get delivered safely and correctly. That is why they’re tackling this problem head-on with Amazon Key, which combines various smart devices – locks, cameras, etc. – that can allow delivery services to place packages inside your front door, garage, or even car trunk. The service is currently available in 50 major cities and supposedly coming soon to Kansas City. Key in-home shipping works by letting a delivery person unlock a customer’s internet-connected door lock and place a package just inside the door. The customer can watch the delivery happening using an Amazon Cloud Cam or Ring Doorbell security camera. Of course, that means you have to be willing to allow a complete stranger to enter your home or garage. Cameras and/or apps monitor the whole thing, but it’s still kind of an unsettling notion for some people.
See if there’s an Amazon Locker near you
Amazon deliveries don’t have to end up on your porch. They can go to Amazon Lockers, which are exactly that: lockers located in various locations (think Save-A-Lot, GNC stores, Speedstop and so on). Upon delivery, you’ll receive the combination needed to retrieve your package. There are currently 20 locker locations in the greater Kansas City area. Of course, the whole point of package delivery is convenience; driving to a store kind of defeats the purpose. But if you frequently shop near one of their locker locations anyway, and you’re not receiving particularly large or heavy packages, this does offer a very safe alternative to your porch.
Install a BoxLock
How about a locker for your porch, one that’s not limited to Amazon deliveries? That’s the idea behind BoxLock, a smart padlock that scans packages so that delivery drivers can unlock a storage box on your porch.You provide the box; BoxLock handles the scanning and connectivity. The latter happens over Wi-Fi, with the lock checking the bar code to make sure it’s a box you’re expecting and one tagged “out for delivery.” If so, presto: the lock opens. It sounds like a pretty solid solution, but it’s a pricey one: $129.
Enlist a neighbor
Is there a neighbor you trust? One who’s home most days? Consider asking if you can have packages shipped to their house. My wife and I have great neighbors and since Elaine is home most of the time, she tries to keep an eye out for packages on our neighbor’s front porch. She will bring them in and then drop them off after they’re home from work. Obviously, this merits some kind of thank you, whether it’s a plate of cookies, a Starbucks gift card, a shoveled driveway in winter – you get the idea.
Have packages delivered to the office
This is arguably one of the safest options. There are a few considerations, however, not the least of which is the need to juggle one or more boxes from your office to your car. If you work in a large building, you may be subject to the whims of the mailroom as boxes can just as easily get delayed or misplaced between there and your desk. Also, it’s not uncommon for delivery attempts to happen in the evening after the building is closed. That could lead to packages getting returned because there’s no one to receive them.
Install a security camera
No thief is going to risk getting caught on camera, right? Actually, cameras aren’t much of a deterrent if criminals don’t know they’re there, which is quite possible with unobtrusive products such as the Ring 2 or Nest Hello video doorbell. And that’s the whole point: to deter the theft. So while it’s increasingly affordable to add a video camera to your front porch, you might do just as well (or better) with a fake one that really stands out. You may also want to get a sticker that warns, “24-hour security cameras recording.”