Porch Pirates – A Package Theft Prevention Guide

Preventing package theft is becoming an ever-increasing concern for many homeowners. What steps can you take to ensure that you're not inviting a passer-by to snoop around your home?

We live in a world where there is very little that we can not have delivered to our front door. And this can be a big help for individuals, families and even businesses, thanks to the nature of an easier, more convenient service.

A downside to this is that thieves have an even easier task of stealing packages off a customer's porch, known as ‘porch pirating’.

Unfortunately, there has been a steady increase in this kind of crime. A survey in America by CNBC revealed one-third of Americans have experienced package theft and over half of those that were polled knew someone who had experienced it. 

With over 3 million packages going missing or reported as stolen, it's becoming increasingly annoying when delivery drivers leave packages and mail in random places at the front of the property, incentivising potential thieves to sniff out an opportunity.

Thankfully, there are some steps we can all take to help tackle package theft and prevent ourselves from becoming a victim of this growing crime.

Nowadays, lots of homeowners are either opting to get items delivered either to an Amazon Locker or installing a mail dropbox on their front porch or mounting it on their outside front wall. This is just one option, but we list other tips below to help ensure that you're not subject to this increasing opportunity crime.

1. Use a Mail Delivery Box

If you can prevent packages ever needing to be left on the porch at all then that is all the better for putting a halt on porch pirates.

One way you can do this is by having an upgraded secure mailbox. The average person's mailbox will not fit a big package through it, hence why it may end up on your front porch.

But instead of relying on what can go through the letterbox on your door why not invest in a larger, upgraded option? In America - and increasingly in the UK - people tend to have one outside their homes that is especially for parcels. These can come in quite big sizes to even cover large parcels too.

There is no reason why you could not adopt this idea, do some research online and see if you can find a style and size that suits. If you have a certain type of padlock, you can connect this to couriers such as UPS and Fedex and they can open and close the padlock without your presence.

We discuss the best parcel delivery dropbox elsewhere, but we would recommend something like this if you're getting lots of deliveries.

a parcel drop box outside a White front door

2. Use an Amazon Locker (if you're a heavy user)

If you order lots of things from Amazon, then it is worthwhile getting the items delivered to a locker from Amazon. These can be positioned in post offices, supermarkets, petrol stations and so on. The downside to this service is that:

  • You have to physically go to where these lockers are located
  • You can only get Amazon packages delivered to the location

This is not the most practical solution for all your online orders, but it is an option.

“Your items can be delivered to a Locker if they're sold or fulfilled by Amazon.com and meet the size and weight limits, and if the Locker you select will have room for your order when it arrives.”

3. Install a security camera (or even a dummy one)

Maybe the most obvious step, but it should not be overlooked, the installation of security cameras can be a big help when combating porch theft. Firstly, with a camera you will be alerted when any delivery has reached you, giving you the chance to collect it instantly. Secondly, if anyone was approaching your package, or indeed they get away with it, at least you will have it caught on camera.

Cameras all have different features, and you should try and get the best model you can within your budget, after all, they could help you save a lot of money in the long run if they prevent theft. Cameras with motion detectors can alert you to any movement on the porch via a smartphone or other electronic device.

If you selected a camera that can record and playback activity these would also be very helpful in the event of having a delivery stolen.

A lot of people across the country are installing cameras for this purpose. A Google search for news about package thieves caught on camera would bring you up more than 40,000 results, so clearly it is a path many are considering.

security camera above a porch

The simple sight of a security camera can put off most opportunistic thieves. You don't have top spend hundreds to get an active deterrent. A dummy security camera can be bought for peanuts, so this is a good option if you're short of funds.

In terms of home security, you can apply everything we've said on this page, but it doesn't mean you are 100% guaranteed that an opportunistic thief will never attempt to steal packages from your front porch. An additional layer of security here is to purchase home contents insurance, but this topic goes beyond the scope of this article.

4. Being Friendly with your Drivers

Of course, it is nice to be friendly to all drivers and show your gratitude for the job they are doing on your behalf. But it can also be helpful to get to know your delivery driver and start up a rapport with them, for the purpose of your parcel collecting.

Your delivery driver can learn where and when you would prefer to have your package delivered, they can learn your preferences. If they know, for example, you would rather they did not leave your parcel on the porch, then they are far more likely to not do so.

Following on from this, you can sometimes provide a comment for delivery instructions to the courier on their website. For example, you could comment for them them to "leave the item behind the black bins" or something to that effect.

5. Be Neighbourly

It is a nice gesture to look after your neighbours, and it is nice if they do the same for you. And you can help each other not get ripped off by porch pirates by looking out for each other.

For example, if you know your neighbour will be home when you are out expecting a parcel you can ask them to hold your package for you. It is also a good idea to always let each other know when you will be away on holiday so that they can take any parcels in for you.

6. Have your Packages Delivered to Work

Another way to get around the issue of package theft is to not have your items delivered to your home at all. If you have an office building for work purposes why not take away the risk of having anything stolen from your porch by instead having them dropped off at your work? After all, there is also a high chance someone else will be there to collect anything if you are not.

7. Install a Smart Doorbell

ring doorbell on a gate

A smart doorbell may be somewhat simpler in setup then a CCTV camera, but they can be just as effective. These clever Wi-Fi enabled doorbell cameras allow you to see and talk to whoever is at your door, no matter where you are around your home. It alerts users through an app on their smartphone, tablet or computer when anyone approaches, thanks to its motion-activated camera.

Once again, this is a device that provides the chance to prevent your package from being stolen, or will at least help catch the thief doing it.

8. Ask for Signature and Sign up for Tracking Alerts

Perhaps one of the best ways to prevent porch theft is to always require a signature for any packages you receive. This is of course not a full-proof answer, however, as sometimes you, or someone on your behalf, may not be around to take a signature. But when you are, its a good prevention measure.

You can also sign up for tracking alerts. If you're able to select a delivery slot, you can plan ahead. This will help keep you in the loop on the status of your package, making it clear when its arrival can be expected. Nowadays, you can receive very detailed information on the current status of your parcel, down to the last detail such as what road your drive is currently at and how long until he reaches your house.

You can also read about your rights in case a parcel goes missing, even with a signature. It makes for interesting reading.

9. Add insurance to the delivery

If it's an expensive item, why not insure it? I know it's an added expense, but why sweat over a very expensive item. I mean, if you've got the money to pay for something that costs a fair bit, then you should have a few more pennies to pay for additional insurance. In this instance, it's a no-brainer.


OK, so we can not completely put a stop to porch pirates. What we can do is take steps that will help us deter would-be thieves and reduce their chances of stealing any of our goods.

Hopefully, you will have picked up at least a couple of tips you can use and you don’t find yourself a victim of porch pirates anytime soon. Oh, and if you have found any of these tips useful perhaps you would like to share this article with your friends and family.

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About The Author

Reece Thompson: Reece has been involved in property in one way or another for the past 10 years. He's gained a lot of experience when it comes to the home, kitchen and garden. He shares his knowledge with enthusiasm and honesty.