If you went a bit bananas on Cyber Monday like I did, or if you’re just more inclined to do your holiday shopping online than in stores, then your front door is going to be a nice warm spot for many a package for the next couple weeks. Receiving goodies on the daily can be thrilling, but it can also make you a target for thieves— in fact, this time of year there’s a big uptick in “porch pirates”— jerks who follow UPS or Fedex trucks and brazenly come take what they leave at your front door. If you aren’t home when things arrive, or worse, things show up while you’re on vacation, you’re basically giving those petty criminals an all-you-can-grab box buffet.
This happened twice at my old house: One loss was especially excruciating— a pair of suede boots that had since become sold out!— and the other was a smaller item, but still left me feeling like I had been violated, and my home was being watched.
When we moved to our new home, I made some changes that have definitely helped me feel like my home (and packages) are much safer. Here are some ideas that will help you prevent package theft this holiday season— even if you can only implement one or two, it’s worth it (those boots haunt me to this day…).
Sign up for Courier Alerts
If you know when packages are arriving, you can make provisions to be home and take them in before someone else grabs them. Couriers like Fedex, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service now have services that allow you to track your packages, so you know exactly when they’ll hit your front porch. All three also offer an app, which you can set to send you SMS alerts or notifications the minute a package is delivered.
Get a package tracking app
There are a number of package tracking apps for iPhones and Androids, but they all require you to enter tracking numbers to see a package’s status. Slice is my favorite because it does all the work for you— it scans your Inbox for receipts and shipping notices from companies you’ve shopped from, and keeps track of what’s coming when without you having to lift a finger.
Get a security camera
Installing a home security system with cameras used to be a costly endeavor, but security cameras are easier and more affordable than ever. Point one at your front porch, and leave a big sign up that lets porch pirates know they’re on camera. Some, like the Netgear’s Arlo, are rated for outdoors and are completely wireless— perfect for mounting to the exterior of your home where you don’t have power. Others, like the Nest Cam or Logitech’s Circle, need to be inside, but can easily be perched in a front-door window to keep an eye on the door.
Get a secure mailbox
My local UPS Store has secure mailboxes, and I have one that I use as my work address. During this time of year, however, I send a lot of personal packages there, since I know someone is there to receive them all day, and will keep them safe until I come get them. It’s a minor inconvenience for a major level of security, and the annual cost is, sadly, less than those stolen boots were (clearly, I’m not over it).
Talk to your neighbors
Your best defense against package theft is a tight-knit neighborhood that looks out for each other, so developing a bond with neighbors and keeping an eye around the neighborhood really makes a difference. Nextdoor is an app that creates a private social network for your neighborhood, where you can share information and communicate with one another about everything from borrowing a rake to reporting a suspicious person lurking about.
Ever had a package stolen? What are you doing to make porch pirates walk the plank?