Whether you’re expecting the jewelry that you bought for your sister, the toys you picked out for the little ones in your life or the shoes you’ve been coveting all year, there’s nothing more exciting that receiving that ding on your phone telling you that your Amazon package has arrived! Until you get home and find nothing awaiting you at your doorstep. If you find your Amazon package stolen, you can likely thank porch pirates. “Porch pirates are people who steal packages from the outside of people’s homes,” explains Samantha Bauer, an agency owner with Goosehead Insurance.
It’s become increasingly common given the rise in online shopping, and while it can happen any time of year, there’s a spike during the busy holiday shopping season. In fact, more than 49 million Americans had a package stolen from their porch last year, accounting for more than $2.4 billion in losses. No one is immune to the actions of porch pirates, but there are plenty of things you can do to minimize your risk or recoup your money.
What can I do if my Amazon package was stolen?
First you’ll want to make sure that your Amazon package was actually stolen. “These days, most Amazon delivery persons will take a photo of the package,” James Kerr, founder and CEO of Boss Security Screens says. Discern if the photo was truly taken at your home by going to “Account & Lists” and clicking on “Orders,” then scroll down to the item you’re trying to find and press “Track package.”
If your package did in fact make it to your home, Kerr recommends reviewing both your security camera footage and your neighbors’ footage, if available. (And if your package didn’t get to your door, you’ll want to check with your neighbors anyway to make sure it wasn’t delivered to them by accident.)
Will Amazon refund me if my package was stolen?
They should, and the site offers an automated prompt system to help do exactly that. Click on “Your Orders,” find the order that was stolen, and tag that one as “Problem with Order.” Follow prompts and then select “Request Refund.”
“If Amazon is unresponsive, you can contact the seller and explain the situation,” Kerr says. “They may send a free replacement or offer credit.” If not, he advises you to contact your credit card company — in most cases, they’ll treat it as fraud and refund the full amount of the charge.
What can I do if other packages are stolen?
1. Call the store you bought it from
“If a package is stolen off your porch, the first thing to consider is contacting the company you bought the item from to see if they have a process for replacement or reimbursement,” explains Bauer. There’s no guarantee — the question of who assumes responsibility of risk varies by company and delivery service — but in a time where customer service is paramount, it’s always worth asking. If they don’t, just like with Amazon, Kerr recommends you ask your credit card company to void the charge.
2. Consider filing an insurance claim
If you have homeowners insurance, then you have personal property coverage, which Bauer says “covers your belongings when they’re at home and elsewhere.” That said, it should be your last resort. “Consider your deductible. If the stolen item costs less, then you likely won’t get anything from your insurance company because you’re responsible for the loss,” she explains. “Another consideration is that filing an insurance claim may raise your rates next year.”
If you’ve purchased a high-value item that costs more than your deductible and choose to file an insurance claim, Bauer says you need to work closely with your insurance carrier to understand their process and what proof they require — typically this means at least filing a police report and providing proof of delivery.
How to outsmart porch pirates so packages won’t get stolen
Kerr refers to porch theft as opportunity-based: “If the package is there in plain sight and no one’s around to intervene, there’s a higher chance someone will run off with it.” Luckily, there are plenty of ways to minimize and even eradicate opportunity:
1. Install security cameras or video doorbells
“Security systems can also qualify you for a discount on your home insurance policy because of the decreased risk of your home being burglarized,” Bauer says.
2. Monitor the tracking
If you’re not home, Kerr recommends asking a neighbor to hang on to it for you. Also great: “Today there are many apps that automatically alert you to all your deliveries, no matter where you ordered your items from,” says Colin Tan, tech editor for Increditools, who shares his three favorite apps depending on your needs. Expecting an international package? Download 17track, which helps you track deliveries from overseas. Want by-the-minute updates? Aftership automatically detects your orders via your email account and sends you live tracking notifications. Ordered from Amazon? Consider Parcel, which has the best, most accurate tracking integration with the shopping behemoth.
3. Require signature at delivery
For high-value items, you can elect to require a signature at delivery, which Bauer says ensures you’ll receive it directly from the shipping carrier. “Plus, it means the shipping person will have to hold onto your package if you’re not there,” says law enforcement officer Rick Musson, security expert for Clearsurance.com. “The only thing to keep in mind is, requesting a signature can cost the seller more money to ship your item, so they may charge you a little more for your order if you choose this option.”
4. Use a mailbox service
“I have my packages delivered to a mailbox service like Mostly Mail —there’s an employee to receive the package and safeguard it until I have a chance to pick it up,” explains Kerr.
5. Enlist a virtual guard
“This is a device you place at your front door or other preferred delivery area,” says David Bakke, online shopping security expert for DollarSanity. “Just instruct delivery drivers to place your order on the device, which is connected to an app on your phone.” If the package is removed without you “deactivating” the device on your app, a loud alarm sounds, which will instantly send thieves running.” Find virtual guards at ThePackageGuard.com.
This video shows how it works:
6. Invest in a lock box
Found on Amazon, Wayfair and home improvement retailers, a lock box can be anchored to your porch floor or next to your mailbox. It allows delivery people to drop packages inside, then securely lock them so no one else (but you!) can access the contents. “These boxes will come with a number code to unlock them, which you’ll put in ‘delivery instructions’ when you order something so the person dropping off the package can get into the box,” explains Jeff Ketelaars, co-founder of Security Guards Only. “And major online retailers like Amazon allow you to automatically include those instructions on everything you order, so you won’t have to type it in each time. I just recommend updating the code now and then, like you would any password.”
For more shipping and package tips, click through the links below!