Porch piracy: Don’t fall victim

Porch piracy is a growing concern, and consumers should take extra security steps to prevent their packages from being stolen.

We’re all spending more time at home, staying distanced and safe from crowded stores, which means we are also buying a lot more online and having it delivered to our homes. According to Statistics Canada, in 2020, 82 per cent of Canadians shopped online and spent a total of $84.4 billion (up from $57.4 billion the year before).

I, for one, have subscription orders for things I regularly need, and I bought 80 per cent of my holiday gifts by shopping online this year. My neighbours are also receiving more packages. We have a system in place where we’ll take in each other’s deliveries when someone isn’t home, so they don’t get stolen. These thieves are called “porch pirates.”

Canadian Security magazine said that the practice of porch piracy (thieves swiping consumer packages from doorsteps before their rightful owners can bring them safely into their homes) is on the rise. My neighbours and I aren’t the only people who are concerned about porch piracy – a 2019 FedEx survey showed that 70 per cent of Canadian online shoppers worry about package theft. Thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise are collected by these crooks, who peruse both suburban streets and city lobbies looking for unclaimed packages.

Other than setting up a makeshift neighborhood watch for such criminal activity, there are other ways in which you can help protect yourself, and your purchases from being stolen. You can request package tracking so you know where your parcel is – that way, you will have a better idea of when it should arrive. There are also various security products you can get to help detract burglars from stealing from you: bags that have locks and are attached to your front door, or small vessels where the package is placed inside and that are wired with an alarm should someone try and remove your item.

Here are some additional tips to stave off porch pirates from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police:

Consider the best address for delivery

It doesn’t have to be your home if you won’t be there. There are other options such as sending it to work, to a friend, or to a relative who will be home during the day.

Request signature confirmation

This means that someone needs to accept and sign for the delivery and then, that way, the package won’t be left unattended. You can do this by contacting the sender.

Ask for the package to be left out of plain view

You can add a delivery note that requests the drop-off be at a more discrete side or back door rather than the front. If you were planning to be home for a delivery but unexpectedly must leave, call the delivery company, and ask to make other arrangements.

Add security measures

If you have the means and are always having packages delivered, you could invest in something like a parcel drop box, security cameras, or a video doorbell.

And, if something is stolen from your front porch, make sure that you report the theft or any other suspicious activity to the police, they said.

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