I have a neighbour on my street who, it seems, has something sitting on his front doorstep every day. Sometimes the stuff is gone the next day. Sometimes it stays there for several days. I see cases of bottled water and packages from Amazon among other things.
If ever there was a way to signal to someone there’s no one home, this is how to do it. I’m not certain how many times his house has been broken into, but I do know it was broken into once in broad daylight on a weekend afternoon.
But that’s not the only risk of having stuff delivered and left at your front door. Your stuff can also be stolen by a “Porch Pirate”.
According to finder.com, 1 in 4 Canadians had had a parcel stolen from their home after it had been delivered by an online merchant. For 1 in 10 cases, the loss was over $250.
Want to avoid being a victim? Here’s what you can do.
Require a signature for deliveries so packages are not left sitting outside where they’re visible. It may require you to re-schedule a delivery or to go to a pickup location, but that beats having your stuff stolen.
Arrange for online purchases to be picked up – either at a bricks-and-mortar store or a courier depot.
Ask couriers to deliver to a neighbour’s home. Be sure to let your neighbour know so they’ll be there and ready for the delivery.
You can buy secure drop boxes for your front porch that can be accessed only by combination lock. You can direct couriers to place deliveries in the drop box and provide them the instructions on where it is and how to access it. Make certain the box is secured to the house in some way; otherwise, the thieves will just steal the box and all its content.
It’s also possible to buy a porch pirate bag – a reinforced nylon bag that is secured to your front door or gate. These are good for documents and small packages.
Here’s a photo of the original Porch Pirate security bag.
Place motion sensor lights about your entrance. They act as a deterrent – especially for thefts after dark. Most thieves shy away from the spotlight.
Set up security cameras around the exterior of your home. Wireless versions are best, because determined thieves will simply cut any cable from cameras that are wired in. Be sure they cover the front entrance and will capture the face of a person approaching it. Be sure they can capture images in low light, as in at dusk or after dark.
Install a doorbell camera at your front entrance. These usually are very good for picking up images of faces of persons approaching the front of your house and have a wide field of view to be able to capture people approaching from different angles. You’d be surprised at how many porch pirates have been caught by doorbell cameras – even ones installed on nearby properties.
Security measures aren’t perfect. They’re not guaranteed to catch a porch pirate in the act. But having them in place can serve as a deterrent. And isn’t that all you really want?