Porch Pirate Raids Rise with Online Purchases Increase


Package deliveries to Burbank homes increased because of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, but despite more customers at home to receive their items, package thefts still persist.

Burbank Chamber

Online orders in America surged immediately after the COVID-19 stay-at-home order and non-essential stores closed. Consumers preferred delivery of essential products and ordered non-essential items. The spike in online orders led to a large increase of package deliveries. What followed was a large spike in package thefts. According to Security.org, a security research site, 25 million households have been victimized by package thieves in the past three months. That is one in five Americans have had a package stolen. This number is extremely high considering more residents are home and can bring in their packages sooner than usual.

“Thieves stealing packages has been a problem for quite some time,” wrote Lieutenant Claudio Losacco, from the Burbank Police Department’s public information office, in an email to myBurbank.com. “We’ve been warning the public about it for several years.”

The BPD reports there have been 25 package thefts and one theft arrest in Burbank this year. In 2019 there were 76 package thefts and one theft arrest. No type of residence is safe from “porch pirates” a euphemism given to thieves who steal packages from the doorsteps of homes. They usually follow behind delivery trucks to capture packages after they are delivered. Apartment, townhome, and condominium residents can be victims of theft, but 40% of those living in a house have had a package stolen.  

If you suspect your package has been stolen, there are a couple of things you should do before you contact the police. Check your package’s tracking information to see if it has been delivered and check with your neighbors to see if it has been mistakenly delivered to the wrong address.

Burbank Chamber

Lt. Losacco advises when a package is stolen, the victim should report the crime to the police and provide any witness accounts and surveillance footage if available. Sharing these items with the police can be helpful in solving the crime especially if the thief commits more than one theft.

Delivery services have their own policies regarding package thefts. The USPS advises to report the theft to them immediately through their website or you can call them, UPS recommends the customer file a police report and contact the shipper for a replacement, and Amazon’s customer service is available online and through their Amazon app to report package thefts.

How do you avoid becoming a porch pirate victim? The BPD says to try and be home to accept your package or have it delivered at a time you will be home. Consider having someone you trust to accept the package for you, or set up e-mail or text alerts for your delivery and require a signature for packages containing valuables. Installing a camera surveillance system around your house is also a good idea.

The various delivery services have several free ways to ensure you, and not pirates, get your mail. USPS can redeliver a package at a time the customer is home to accept it, or a customer can have the package delivered to a specified location to be accepted there. Informed Delivery is USPS’s free digital feature that sends preview images of mail to the customer and allows them to manage their incoming packages.

UPS My Choice will text or email an alert when a package is on its way or allow the package to be redirected to one of UPS’ many access points which are locations, such as a store, where the package may be picked up.

Amazon also has several delivery options including Amazon Map Tracking which allows customers to view the delivery driver’s progress on a map in real-time. Amazon Photo-On-Delivery provides visual confirmation by showing the package was delivered safely and where the driver placed it. Amazon Counter is a new service that allows customers to pick up their package at one of Amazons’ partnered delivery sites such as Rite Aid. All of these mail services offer mail tracking. For further delivery options look on the carrier’s websites.

With the loosening of stay-at-home restrictions and more people going out, fewer people will be home to accept their packages. Consumers should make arrangements with their shippers to insure their package’s safe delivery and avoid being raided by porch pirates.

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