Package Theft: What You Need to Know9 min read


They call them porch pirates. They wait at street corners for delivery men to place packages at doorsteps. After they leave, these individuals dash off and snag these packages for themselves.

Porch pirates are opportunists who cannot resist an opportunity to pick up packages they see lying on doorsteps or porches. Although ongoing efforts are being made to nab such individuals, the scale of the problem is only getting worse as more people begin to shop online. The problem gets exacerbated during the holiday season because it’s at this time of the year that people shop online the most. And it is common for people to leave on holiday while ordered packages lie on their doorstep.

Package Theft Affects Businesses

A fact that’s worth remembering is that ecommerce shoppers identify their delivery experience with the brand they order from. Any issues in the last mile are blamed on the retail business rather than on the shipping carrier handling the delivery. This is how human psychology works. It is easier to pin the blame on the visible brand than on the carrier working silently in the background. banner ad

As a result, you cannot shirk off package theft as a problem that your shipping carrier needs to handle on its own. You need to step in and proactively address the problem at your end. The risk of not doing is that you will lose customers. And your bottom line will take a hit because of bad online reviews and word-of-mouth exchanges. It pays to remember here that it costs way more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

It costs way more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

What Retailers Can Do About Package Theft

Thankfully, the situation is not out of hand. There are measures your business can take to stay safe from the scourge of package thieves that America is facing. Here are some things you could do:

  • Provide your customers flexible delivery options
  • Keep your customers updated about the status of shipments
  • Package discreetly
  • Use emerging technologies to ensure safe delivery

Provide Your Customers Flexible Delivery Options

At the end of the day, every customer knows what the best mode of delivery for their neighbourhood is. Some neighbourhoods witness no package theft at all while others are infested with package thieves. It pays to trust the judgement of your customers about what the best mode of delivery for their location is and provide them options to suit them.

Mandating signature on delivery is considered an irritant by most shoppers. This requires them to be present at home to receive packages, which, of course, is not practical for most working people. Those in neighbourhoods where package theft is common may, however, opt for this form of delivery for increased security.

FedEx Home and a number of UPS service types offer delivery on Saturdays. Choosing this option can ensure that the customer is at home to receive their parcel.

Delivery to a safe locker near the customer’s home can be provided as an additional method of delivery to ensure package safety. Amazon Locker  is such a service that allows the customer to take delivery of their package by using a code and following on-screen instructions.

Keep Your Customers Updated About the Status of Shipments

Proper communication is key to eliminating many of the pain points of the post-purchase shipping experience. This is a good way to deal with the risk of package theft as well.

The first aspect of proper communication with customers is to provide them the right estimate of the delivery date and time. The next step to be taken is to give them periodic updates of the status of the parcel in transit. These updates can be provided via SMS or e-mail or both. This will help customers be prepared at the time of delivery. The final step in this process of communication is to drop a message once the actual delivery has been performed. A helpline number can be provided to assist in case of discrepancies.

A mobile phone receiving parcel updates

Package Discreetly

When a package is dropped off at the porch of a house, it can sit up like a duck waiting to be shot. Package thieves dream about just such a situation. Packaging discreetly can help avoid this situation.

There are many ways to make a package discreet. One way is to avoid excessive branding. Celebrity icon Kylie Jenner had to change the branding on packages of her lip kit after customers reported receiving empty boxes. The thefts consequently reduced. Another way to make a package less noticeable is to reduce the amount of product-descriptive text on it.

Larger boxes are more attractive to porch pirates because they give the impression of a larger pay-off. Using a box that fits the size of the product will help make the package less noticeable while also helping to reduce the cost of shipping.

Larger boxes are more attractive to porch pirates because they give the impression of a larger pay-off.

A gradually growing trend is the use of stealth wraps to make parcels less conspicuous. There are a variety of options  using various materials available on the market. Tamper-proof tapes help point out any attempt at theft. Consider these options if you’ve had customers complain of packages that didn’t reach them.

A retailer preparing a package

Use Emerging Technologies to Ensure Safe Delivery

Using emerging technologies can help you stay one step ahead of thieves.

Amazon has introduced new technologies that allow online shoppers to take delivery of packages not only at home but also in garages and even in cars!

Amazon Key smart lock kits help shoppers provide front door access to delivery persons via app. This lock system is able to integrate with Smart surveillance systems to enable live footage of the delivery and two way audio communication.

The Amazon Key app is able to work with certain car models parked in publicly accessible areas for a window of at least 4 hours. It allows for the boot to be opened remotely just long enough for a delivery person to place a package inside it. This service can benefit those busy at work on weekdays.

A similar service is available via the app and an associated security system that allows for deliveries to be made into the garages of homes. This can be especially useful when shoppers are away on holiday.

These and other similar delivery options can be provided to customers to provide them an improved online shopping and last mile experience.

What Shoppers Can Do About Package Theft

If you are a shopper concerned about your packages being stolen, know that there are many measures available to you to deter package thieves.

Use Amazon Locker

To avoid your Amazon packages being stolen from the doorstep, you can use the Amazon Locker service. This service allows you to pick up delivery from the Amazon Locker in selected locations across the country with a unique code. Customers can opt for the Amazon Locker service if they find one in their region. It is safe and convenient to shop and receive packages this way. This is true especially for expensive orders like electronics, phones and such. The UPS Store offers similar services. You can also invest in your own digital locker to secure packages.

Route Packages to Office Addresses

Home deliveries are fraught with problems: package thieves looting drop-off deliveries, irresponsible mailmen or carriers leaving packages on the front door without even knocking or ringing the door, pre-signing delivery without consent, or delaying home delivery by sending notifications too early. All this can be evaded by routing packages to office addresses where they are processed officially. The probability of losing packages to package thieves is much lesser with office deliveries. This is also why FedEx/UPS cost more to deliver to residential zip codes than to office zip codes.

An office front desk

Install Security Cameras at Home

Security cameras deter package theft in most cases. While a basic camera can capture theft and relay it, cameras with built-in sirens can alert people in case of theft. Package thieves are liable to be charged with theft, property crime or other offences if caught and apprehended. 

Image of a security camera set up to deter package thieves

Mandate Signature on Delivery

To prevent packages from being stolen off the porch, a mandated signature delivery would work. The arrangement can be signed off with mutual consent from the sender and the receiver (you, that is). If a package is lost and there is no signature of delivery, legal procedure can ensure that you receive a replacement or full refund.

Place Packages on Hold When on Holiday

If you are away on holiday, you can opt to place your pending packages on hold. While USPS and FedEx offer a free service to hold packages for a certain period of time, UPS charges for every rescheduling.

Opt for In-Store Pickup

Click-and-collect is increasingly becoming a trend. Using this mode of delivery, you can order online and collect the ordered parcel from an outlet located near home. This mode is particularly useful for ordering a larger number of items.


While the threat of package theft continues to increase year-on-year, there are measures that can taken by both retailers and customers to ensure package safety and a smooth last mile experience. Retailers, shipping carriers, and end customers need to work hand-in-hand to stay ahead of package thieves.

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Some of our high-impact offerings are:

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  • Reporting at every stage of “shipping & delivery” to enable you with critical supply-chain insights.

The value we add to businesses is most evident when experienced first-hand. Learn more about our solution here.

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Package Theft

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