December 18, 2019

Package Deal is Package Steal

According to estimates, a whopping 23 million Americans have had packages stolen from their homes before they could open them. As the package deliveries surge, so do the incidents of packages being swiped from doorsteps.

For homeowners, the nasty practice has become so commonplace, it warrants a new term: Porch piracy.

It seems these modern-day buccaneers simply follow the Big Brown trucks or other package-delivery vehicles on their routes, then wait to run to the door and swipe the goods.

A record 2.7 billion packages will be shipped during the holidays, according to estimates. Private citizens sent more than $500 billion in packages during the holiday season of 2018 and are expected to top that in 2019.

Of course, the increasing droves doing their Yuletide shopping online are using the shipping fleets as well. Estimates say the online shopping total for the holidays will be a record $143 billion.

Most delivery companies dismiss porch piracy as an unusual occurrence, but a perfunctory perusal of online police reports and TV news stories show that the problem is likely growing.

Online retail giant Amazon.com says is taking it seriously. The main reason behind developing their "drone delivery" technology is security. Machines will deliver packages directly to people wherever they happen to be as soon as the technology becomes commercially legal. It’s already commercially viable.

As a homeowner, if your postal carrier gives you the option to refuse “drop-offs” you should probably do so.

Otherwise, police say homeowners should have a designated “package delivery” home in the neighborhood, rather than having packages left on their front porches.

One thing’s for sure. It’s an issue that’s not going away anytime soon. Online sales hit record levels of $547 billion a year in 2019 and are expected to rise to $740 billion by 2023.

To make sure your packages aren’t “grinched” year-round, the USPS offers the following tips:

  • Promptly pick up mail:

    If you aren’t available, designate a neighbor or have mail held.

  • Deposit mail close to pick up times.

  • Inquire about overdue mail:

    If you don’t receive something you’re expecting, contact the sender.

  • Don’t send cash:

    It’s not worth the risk.

  • Request a signature:

    If you’re sending something, request recipient signed verification

  • File change of address:

    Let the postal service and your relatives and creditors know when you move.

If you think something was stolen, there are things you can do to try and get a refund:

  • Track it:

    It may be delayed or never sent.

  • Call the police:

    Not 9-1-1. Non-emergency. An officer will respond to write a report.

  • Contact the seller:

    Policies vary, but many companies will provide a refund or replacement. A little kindness toward your customer service rep can go a long way.

  • Report it to the shipping company:

    If your package was not insured, you may only be able to get refunded for the cost of shipping.

  • File an insurance claim:

    Your home insurance policy likely covers theft. That police report may come in handy now. Do the math. If you have to pay a deductible first, it may not be worth your while. Keep in mind that a claim may increase your monthly premium.

  • Credit card check:

    Many credit card companies have customer protections in place for just this kind of problem – possibly you a credit on your next statement. It never hurts to ask.