Thursday, December 22, 2016

Protect Your Front-Porch Packages!

Earlier this week, I was driving around our neighborhood about 3:00 PM on a weekday - just within a mile or so of our home.

(A brief note of why I'm driving around my neighborhood at 3:00 PM on a weekday -- you see, I work from home, so sometimes I can feel "cooped up." To get over this, I often take my lunch break and get in my car and drive around just a bit -- I might eat my lunch in my car, or stop at a nearby park, etc, just to get out of the house for a few minutes. I also tend to eat a late lunch. Anyhoo . . .)

In the space of about 5 minutes, I drove by 8 houses that had at least one package sitting on the front porch, presumably waiting for one of the occupants of the house to come home. This is your typical middle-class suburban neighborhood where there are often two parents who work outside the house, and the kids are all in school.

If you think about it, right around 2:30 or 3:00 PM is the ideal time to strike if you're a package thief. The mailman, UPS guy, and FedEx guy have already made their rounds (in many areas), but it will likely be another hour before mom, dad, or the kids get home. Certainly that doesn't apply to all families, but many. In my little time of observation, I would say I could have fairly easily walked up to all-but-one of those houses and simply helped myself to one of the parcels. (The one house that would have been more challenging had a neighbor with an open garage next door, and a guy walking around.)

With the rise of and other online retailers, daytime package theft is becoming a real thing. I'm not an expert by any means, and I don't even have any stats to back it up, other than random local news stories. (I'm sure someone could search out the topic online if they so chose.)

While I'm not an expert by any means, I have thought of a few ideas on how to protect those front-porch deliveries from daytime theft, if your home is generally unoccupied during the day:

- UPS and FedEx both offer services that allow you to re-route packages to different times, or have them delivered to a local retail store that participates in their program.
- You could always have your deliveries go to a friend or family member in your town that generally has an adult home during the day. It might not be a bad idea to tell your family members as well that you want any gifts to go to Aunt Sharon's house.
- Ask a friendly (or nosey) neighbor to watch for the delivery truck and secure the package for you
- Ask the delivery company to place the package in an out-of-sight place (like behind the bushes). Most online orders have a place where you can place delivery comments. It may not always be heeded, but doesn't hurt to try. If it's out of sight, it's less likely to attract a thief.
- You could consider a home security system (camera, motion senor, or some such thing), or some other kind of deterrent.

What do you think? Does anybody have any experiences with this they'd like to share?

May your Christmas be merry and all your deliveries fulfilled!

(a short video of a package being stolen, with a funny twist:)

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