Pirates are no longer the scourge of the seven seas: they’re the scourge of porches and front stoops everywhere. With more people ordering everything from groceries and gifts to home goods and medical supplies online for the convenience of having those products delivered straight to their doors, opportunities for so-called porch piracy -; or package theft -; have risen sharply. Package theft can be very difficult to prosecute and not all delivery companies have a robust or customer-friendly resolution process if you find yourself a victim of a porch pirate. Fortunately, with the problem as widespread as it is, the market has been flooded with an abundance of solutions, one of which is sure to fit your needs.
Smart locks have come a long way from their early days as simple numeric keypads eliminating the need to have a physical key for your front door. Today, smart locks can enable you to open your door with a personalized code, a fingerprint, a phone, a digital assistant, a fob, or even remotely using a mobile app. Some allow you to give digital keys to friends and family who frequently visit your home and eliminate the need for spare keys, which can be a significant security risk, especially if you have them hidden around the outside of your home. Many smart locks also come with an auto-lock feature, so you’ll never have to panic wondering if you remembered to lock the door again.
Depending on the model you settle on, your smart lock will either fit over your existing deadbolt or you will need to change out your door hardware entirely. If you feel like you need to hire a locksmith to make sure your new lock is installed correctly, many offer installation services for smart locks, and you may even be able to purchase your lock directly through them.
While smart locks don’t necessarily offer a higher level of security than a standard deadbolt, their connectivity and options for remote access could keep you a step ahead of porch pirates by enabling you to open and lock your door so packages can be delivered inside your home then be safely locked away, rather than being left exposed in front of your door.
Some delivery companies have begun to offer secure delivery programs. These programs work by allowing one-time access to either your door or garage to authorized, background-checked delivery personnel.
Another great way to add a new layer of security to your home and protect your deliveries is a closed-circuit television, or CCTV, system. These are the kinds of security camera systems frequently used by businesses to prevent theft and are now widely available for the residential market.
Some CCTV systems, like the ones built into smart doorbells, only monitor your front door. CCTVs that are part of doorbell systems are often linked to a mobile app that alerts you anytime the doorbell is rung or if the camera detects movement and typically allows you to view what is happening on your phone. Some systems even allow you to speak to whoever has rung through the doorbell itself. More expansive systems that cover more areas with separate cameras are also available.
CCTV systems may give you access to recordings of all activity outside your door, either as an included service or as a subscription upgrade, allowing you to catch package thieves in the act and supply footage to local law enforcement to increase the chances of recovering your packages and prosecuting theft.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of allowing a delivery person access to your home or garage to drop off packages behind a locked door, consider looking into a secure package locker. These products are safes that can be placed in front of your home and offer different security options to keep your packages under lock and key if deliveries are made while you’re away.
Some delivery safes work by allowing one-time access to delivery people, while others have features similar to postal drop-off boxes where packages can be placed into the box, but cannot be accessed once they’ve been put in. These safes are particularly helpful if you’re having groceries delivered, as several models come with ice packs and insulation to keep your groceries from going bad while they wait to be brought inside.
In addition to residential package lockers, major delivery services like UPS and Amazon have begun offering pick-up and drop-off lockers. You can request delivery to one of these locations instead of your home and receive a notification once your package has been delivered along with a code to use to open the locker. Usually, these locations are inside delivery companies’ own stores, but sometimes they appear in other local businesses the delivery company has partnered with.
Traditional U.S. Postal Service P.O. boxes are another option for secure package delivery that are available no matter which delivery service you’re receiving your order from.
Alternative Delivery Options
If you’re worried about a package getting delivered while you’re away, there are some alternatives to home delivery that you may want to look into. If your office doesn’t have regulations against it, you could have deliveries sent there instead of to your home. Options like requiring a signature upon delivery make it so a package cannot be delivered if you are not there to receive it. Some delivery services also offer delivery schedules, so you can select a window of time you know you’ll be home during for any deliveries you know are coming.
Signature requirements and delivery schedules are not fool-proof, and can sometimes cause their own issues; if you aren’t there when someone arrives it can make for serious delays in receiving your packages, and they do little to help with packages being delivered that you may not know about.
No one wants to worry about their packages being stolen from just outside the front door. Luckily there are a variety of options on the market today to keep your deliveries secure.