‘Porch Pirates’ Victimizing 20 Percent of Homeowners

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Law enforcement agencies are getting more reports of package theft as more consumers shop online, says Anthony Giorgianni of Consumer Reports. A survey by the California-based home security company Ring found nearly 20 percent of homeowners reported having a package stolen in the past year, losing an average of $140, NPR reports. “We don’t know if it’s really on the rise,” Giorgianni says, “but it is a big problem, particularly around the holidays, when you get these porch pirates patrolling, following delivery trucks and stealing all those gifts that have been left at people’s doors.” Two teenagers were arrested in Lincoln, Ne., this month after the police discovered more than 30 packages shoved into a car. In the Boston area, law enforcement have begun placing “bait” packages equipped with a tracking device to catch thieves. UPS expects to deliver 750 million packages this season, 250 million more than five years ago.

Giorgianni says the best way to prevent theft is to require a signature upon delivery of a package or instruct the shipping company to deliver it to their local affiliate or to an office instead of your home. Consumers can also have packages dropped off at a lockbox or use a service such as Amazon Key, which allows delivery drivers to enter a home when no one is there. The $200 set includes a smartlock and indoor security camera, so people feel assured they’ll get a package without having their valuables stolen. Giorgianni suggests installing security cameras, keeping them visible to deter would-be thieves. If you tell some retailers about a theft, they will reship it. If the seller refuses to reship the item, consumers can file a claim with the credit card or homeowner’s insurance company to cover the cost.

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