Did you know that one in three of us has had packages swiped from our doorstep by thieves (aka ‘porch pirates’)? Don’t let these holiday vilians squash your holiday cheer with their nasty, not-niceness! We rounded up four simple tactics that’ll foil any grinchy box bandits and keep your gifts safe. Keep reading to learn more about how to prevent package theft this holiday season.
Ensure safe arrival by tracking each step.
The best way to thwart opportunistic thieves is to require a signature upon receipt. But if that’s not an option? “Just use the tracking link provided with most online purchases, so you’ll know exactly when your packages are slated to arrive,” says Rebecca Edwards, safety expert for Safewise.com. “This way, you’ll be able to get to your package as soon as you can after it’s dropped off or ask a neighbor to retrieve it for you.” For USPS deliveries, simply sign up for the free USPS Informed Delivery service (InformedDelivery.USPS.com), which sends you a daily email alerting you which packages will arrive that day.
Keep prying eyes away with a DIY safe.
Research suggests that parcels are more likely to get swiped when they’re easy to spot, adorned with a brand name (such as Zappos) or look pricey (labeled with a telltale “fragile”). Fortunately, there’s an easy way to block “peeping” porch pirates: Just make a lock box. “This is a container in which delivery people can hide packages and has a lock that can be used to secure it after they’ve made their drop-off,” explains Edwards. While lockboxes are available starting at around $100, you can easily make your own by using a storage container with a padlock and laying bricks on the bottom to make it too heavy to lift. Says Edwards, “Leave a note on your door requesting drivers place your packages in the box and lock it—most delivery people are happy to do so.”
Secure drop-offs by sending packages to a secret spot.
We now have many options to get packages delivered to a secure drop-off point. “UPS’s My Choice program, FedEx Delivery Manager and Amazon Locker all enable you to ship items to private lockers at any of their thousands of drop-off locations— typically retail stores—at no additional charge,” reveals Edwards. Your parcel rerouting rundown: For UPS, go to UPS. com and click “Tracking” then “UPS MyChoice”; for FedEx, sign up at FedEx.com/en-us/tracking.html, then manage your delivery options; on Amazon, look for the “Amazon locker” option at checkout; for the USPS, eNeighbr.com lets you ship to a neighbor, which is free for the first 30 days and $2.50 per package after that.
Guarantee gifts arrive safe and on time.
Ask this before you send.
Think you know the best address to ship parcels to loved ones? They may actually prefer to receive them at their job or opt to pick them up elsewhere. Before you send packages to their homes, ask which address is ideal.
More and more online retailers are allowing customers to add instructions to their gift deliveries, helping ensure packages get into the right hands. For example, you might request for the delivery person to ring the doorbell, hide a package behind a potted plant on the front steps or place it inside an enclosed porch.
Get proof of delivery.
FedEx, UPS and USPS all give you the option to require a verified signature to leave a package. On top of that, they offer to send you proof of delivery via email, postcard or your online delivery service account. Just be sure to ask the shipper you’re using about this service and any fees that may apply.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.