‘Porch Pirates’ Steal 260 Million Packages In 2022

The surge of thefts by “porch pirates” has hit a new record this year. A recent study shows that around 260 million packages have been stolen from American porches and front door areas. With the rise in online shopping and the return of many people to work away from home after the COVID-19 pandemic, crooks are finding easy pickings after delivery persons leave valuable boxes during the day.

Twenty-five-year Austin, Texas, police veteran and Austin Police Retired Officers Association President Dennis Farris said the theft of delivered packages is becoming commonplace, especially in suburban and rural settings.

Austin ranked third nationally in this year’s study for the most package thefts, trailing only San Francisco and Seattle.

Farris described the ways that people can protect themselves from porch theft.

He recommended that Amazon Prime customers consider the company’s “Amazon Key” system, which allows delivery persons to place packages securely inside a garage. He said the system uses a “one-time code and it alerts you when the garage doors open and alerts you when the garage door’s closed.” The system only allows a code to work once, so “it’s not like the guy that’s delivering your package could just come back.”

Even with the security protocols that Amazon has built into their “key” system, many homeowners are not comfortable with granting strangers access to the inside of their garage. Farris suggested an alternative could be installing a lockbox on the front porch that could also use a one-time-only access code that can be provided to delivery persons in shipping details.

Farris also recommended another service provided by Amazon that uses lockers available at local establishments like convenience stores in some cities. Another option is renting a box at a mail-service postal facility like a UPS Store.

He said the “only foolproof way to keep your packages from getting stolen is using a secondary location that you have to have a code to open the locker.”

Other measures include video surveillance systems like Ring doorbells that take video of the area where packages are left. Farris said cameras may not prevent thefts but at least provide “an idea” of the identity of a thief.