Whether buying gifts or purchasing a treat for yourself, it’s easier than ever before to receive packages almost instantly. In many cases, all you have to do is pay 50% of the delivery fee for overnight or 2-day shipping. Then the little brown box is on your doorstep, ready for you to find it.
But how do you know that package is safe?
For many people around the country, these packages are delivered only to be snatched away. According to NPR, these so-called “package pirates” are on the rise, particularly during this time of year. One California survey found that almost 20% of homeowners reported package theft in the past year.
Anthony Giorgianni of Consumer Reports told NPR that while the extent of the problem is not clear, there is a higher risk as more people shop online.
“We don’t know if it’s really on the rise,” he said. “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.”
Baltimore Sun reports that FedEx estimated sending 400 million packages internationally. But a November InsuranceQuotes survey found that 26 million people reported theft.
“We’re definitely seeing more people tell us that they have been affected by theft during the holidays, particularly packages left on porches or doorsteps,” Laura Adams, a senior insurance analyst for InsuranceQuotes, said in a statement to Baltimore Sun. “It is a shockingly large number. It’s unfortunate that it’s on the rise.”
To combat this theft, homeowners are taking various steps. Some neighborhood watch programs may be effective in preventing theft, with security guards making an average of $30,000 per year. On a smaller scale, some homeowners are opting for home security systems and cameras, according to Baltimore Sun. And in select cities, Amazon offers their Amazon Locker program, where customers can purchase lockers and pick up their packages from there.
“It’s a question for each customer whether they are willing to pay the cost of somebody holding onto the package or [choose to] go to the store,” Ravi Srinivasan, assistant professor at Loyola University’s Sellinger School of Business, said in a statement to Baltimore Sun. “It’s all about a willingness to pay.”