Consumer Survey Reports 1 in 3 Online Shoppers Has Been The Victim Of Package Theft By Porch Pirates

There are a few things people can do to keep from being victimized by opportunistic thieves.

a package delivered to a porch
Tony Alter / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Cropped, resized.)

There are a few things people can do to keep from being victimized by opportunistic thieves.

One in three American shoppers will have at least one package pilfered by porch pirates per year, C+R Research reports. With the Christmas shopping season getting up and running, it’s prime time for opportunistic thieves to take advantage of valuable gifts just sitting out in the open, waiting to be stolen.

The consumer advocacy magazine researched the shopping habits of around 2,000 Americans, sussing out how often they shop online and how porch piracy affects them. Over a third — 36 percent — say that they’ve been victimized by porch pirates at least once per year. 44 percent say they’ve had packages stolen at least twice per year.

What’s more, the average cost to replace a stolen item is over a hundred bucks per theft — $109 to be exact.

“With one single package potentially containing hundreds of dollars worth of goods, package thieves, or ‘porch pirates,’ see an Amazon box as a ripe opportunity to steal,” the report states.

The bad news is that only 11 percent say that their thief was eventually caught. However, 73 percent say that they were eventually able to secure a refund for the stolen goods.

What’s Fueling The Rise In Porch Piracy?

The simplest answer is that more and more Americans are increasingly shopping online. 89 percent of Americans get an online purchase delivered to their home at least once per month, with 44 percent of those saying they get an online package delivered once per week.

For thieves, Christmas shopping season is the most wonderful time of the year, as there will be more people shopping online and more packages being delivered and left unattended.

What To Do About It?

There are a few things people can do to curb porch piracy, but none of them will completely prevent the theft of packages.

Some survey respondents say they ask the delivery driver to hide the package behind a bush or other object. Others pay extra for a delivery option that requires a signature. Still others arrange to pick up their package in person at a depot or delivery center.

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Some have decided to install a doorbell camera, which at the very least can provide video evidence of the theft.

There are those that have gone the vengeful route, however. To get back at porch pirates, some shoppers have put out decoy boxes that contain something unpleasant once the porch pirate opens it. For example, YouTuber Mark Roper made headlines last year when he posted a video of a glitter bomb that he put in bait packages that would spray glitter all over the thief once the box was opened. Although that particular video was most likely staged, the sentiment of “getting back” at porch pirates still permeates.

The problem is taking vengeance against the porch pirates doesn’t actually prevent the thief from taking the package. It may make them think twice about committing the crime again, but there’s no evidence supporting that.

Those victimized by a porch pirate have a few things they can do, according to Value Penguin. The first step is check with the credit card company — many offer purchase protection. Failing that, a claim can be filed with the shipping company or with the merchant that sold the item.