Holiday shopping season is upon us, and that means scores of people are about to spend their hard-earned cash to buy gifts for friends, family, or themselves.
Though it can be a fun time, experts suggest that you be aware it is also a time when thieves vigorously scavenge for packages left outside homes. Consider, that package theft cost Americans an estimated $19.5 billion mostly in 2022, based on a survey from SafeWise, a home security website. That means roughly 260 million packages vanished from porches nationwide in the last 12 months—50 million more packages than 2021.
The findings came from the responses of 1,000 Americans quizzed by SafeWise; over 15% of respondents were Black Americans.
Other top findings revealed that three in four Americans have had a package stolen in the last year, with the average dollar amount lost to thieves ranging between $50 and $100. With data showing no decline of people shopping online, the analysis surmised that the package theft numbers will keep rising.
James A. Samuel, Jr., founder and CEO of ANJEL Tech, shared via email that package theft is a big deal for all, especially during the holiday season. Yet, he notes, that the African American community can be disproportionately affected because of a “second order effect” of the digital divide. He explained the most popular doorbell cameras are reliant on Internet and or Wi-Fi connection. He added that Black communities are documented to be “under-connected” to such devices at higher rates than the general public.
“Therefore, the ability (and digital resources) to connect to these safety systems is equally diminished, which leaves these communities and populations increasingly vulnerable to this type of theft crime.”
So, what can you do to help avoid package theft, particularly with Christmas approaching fast? SafeWise’s lead reporter and safety expert Rebecca Edwards offered some tips.
- Prevent porch piracy by tracking your packages and requiring a signature for delivery. Both strategies are free and can be set up when placing your order or after getting your shipment confirmation. Further, you can request packages be held for pickup at a delivery center or storefront.
- Most carriers like FedEx, Amazon, and USPS give you the option to track your packages with updates as they get closer to your house. Real-time alerts can help you arrange for someone to pick up the package right after delivery and sometimes even let you opt to have it delivered later if needed. Requiring a signature for delivery means that the carrier won’t just drop it on your porch. They must hand it to someone, so if you aren’t there when they attempt to deliver, they will try again.
- Another good option is to ask your neighbors for help. If there’s someone on the street, the block, or in the building who’s always home, check if they’re willing to receive packages for you. And consider using package lockers—either at a depot like Amazon Lockers or placing one on your front porch.
- If you want to use a doorbell camera or another type of security camera to help you monitor deliveries, look for one that has extra features like two-way talk so you can let delivery people know where to place a package to keep it out of sight or even call out a package thief if one is approaching your door.