Package theft is an inconvenient circumstance to deal with. As deliveries increase during the holidays, so does package theft.
We’ll discuss how rampant this issue is and offer tips on how to prevent package theft as well as what you can do when package theft happens to you.
Nearly 11 million homeowners experience package theft each year and 1 in 4 people will experience package theft in their lifetime. The average amount of theft is $140 USD.
I was recently a victim of package theft in Seattle, Washington and lost a package from Lululemon valued at $598 USD. Luckily I was able to get my entire purchase refunded.
Porch Pirates are constantly on the prowl for unsecured packages and buildings. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in or how small or large the package is. It can happen to anyone.
Cities With the Most Package Thefts
Package theft rises in denser cities, with many of these cities being tech hubs. According to Shorr Packaging Corp., here are the top ten cities with the most package theft.
- San Francisco
- Portland, Ore.
- Washington, D.C.
How to Prevent Mail Theft
#1 Install a Security Camera
Security cameras are a great way to catch a thief in the act. The Blink camera system by Amazon has a 2-year battery life and can be accessed from your mobile device or laptop. The presence of a camera alone may be enough to ward off package thieves.
#2 Get Packages Sent to Your Workplace
If your packages are constantly getting stolen when you’re not home, consider getting them sent directly to your workplace.
Yourmailroom or front desk staff can manage the receipt of packages and sign for anything important.
#3 Track Your Packages
Nowadays tracking is an automatic benefit added to the supply chain process but in the event that a company does not offer it automatically, considering paying a little more to get a tracking number for your package.
I would consider a tracking service if the item is expensive and/or coming from an international retailer.
#4 Require a Signature Authorization For Your Packages
If a package is important and valuable, request a signature upon delivery.
Delivery persons will personally knock on your door or ring your doorbell and deliver to someone present at home. If you are not home when the delivery is attempted, most shipping companies will leave a notification and you can pick it up at a designated access point with a valid ID, such as a US Passport or a state-issued driver license.
#5 Choose a Specific Delivery Time
Some retailers will offer delivery windows options. They may range anywhere from within an hour to between a block of hours, such as anticipated delivery window between 10 AM – 3 PM. Once your mail is delivered, make sure to pick it up promptly and take it inside your home and away from any potential porch pirates view.
#6 Opt for Electronic Documents
Instead of getting important documents send via mail, consider opting for electronic documents. This not only keeps your information secure, but it also prevents unnecessary paper waste.
#7 Get Your Packages Insured
Opt for getting your packages insured in case theft or damage happens. Insured packages can be claimed by the retailer or recipient and shipping companies will refund the value of the contents (up to a specific amount) after a claim is opened and settled.
#8 Hold Your Mail at the Post Office
If you will be away on vacation, make sure to contact the Postal Service and have them hold your mail. You can easily do this online via the USPS Hold Mail form. You can opt to pick up your deliveries or have the mailman redeliver your mail when the hold mail period is over.
#9 Never Send Cash via Mail
#10 Send Your Mail to a Post Office Box
If your mail has been stolen repeatedly, a more secure solution could be the best option.
Thieves are more likely to target unwatched neighborhood mailboxes than those inside a Post Office.
You will get to choose from different sized boxes. There’s a fee to rent a box and smaller boxes often have a waiting list.
Sign-up for a USPS PO Box here.
What to Do When Someone Steals Your Mail
#1 File a Police Report
Only 10% of package theft reports actually get resolved. The rule here is if you don’t file a report, you’ll never know if package theft will ever be resolved. Do it as soon as you know your package is stolen.
You can file a report by calling 9-1-1 in most cities.
#2 File a Report with the Postal Inspectors Office
If you see someone suspicious near a mailbox or see them steal mail, call police immediately, then report it to Postal Inspectors by calling 877-876-2455 or by filling out their online form.
Instructions to File Online:
- Visit postalinspectors.uspis.gov and click on “File a Complaint” to alert the Postal Inspectors office.
- You should also file a police report at the nearest police station. Call 9-1-1 to file a police report.
- Lastly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) won’t necessarily help with your individual case, but you can fill out a complaint form at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov to help guide their national investigations.
Mail theft is a felony which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
You should call the police and report it.
#3 Talk to Your Neighbors
Ask residents in and around your building if they saw anything or grabbed a package by mistake. They may not realize that their mail might have been stolen too.
This also puts everyone on watch for suspicious behavior.
#4 Call The Retailer and File a Claim
Most retailers will offer a refund or replacement of the lost item. All you have to do is call in and let them know what steps you’ve already taken to track your lost package.
Be mindful that this does not work all the time.
Many retailers may also deny your claim if you’re a repeat offender. To them, it looks like you’re up to no good if you keep “losing” your packages.
It’s best to prevent it from happening in the first place so that retailers do not ban you from purchasing from them.
#5 Look for Evidence
If you live in an apartment building, ask for security footage that could show proof of the theft.
Look through your dumpster to determine if someone from within your building might have stolen your packages.
And finally, request your HOA or property management to install cameras to deter thieves and protect you and your neighbors from package theft.
#6 Set a Fraud Alert
If you lost important documents with personal information, contact one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
Set up an alert for when someone makes a credit inquiry using your personal information.
#7 Monitor Your Credit Report
Check your credit score reports regularly to make sure nothing foul has happened with your personal information.
Package theft is preventable. By using the tips offered above, you can help youself and retailers stay safe from porch pirates. Remember that if you don’t report it, it will never be resolved.
It is best to report all package thefts so that together, our critical mass can force retailers, mail handlers and authorities to do more to keep our packages and neighborhoods safe.
What tips did you find helpful? If you have anything to add, contact us and let us know! Together, we can keep these package thieves away.
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