How to defend your deliveries from porch pirates this holiday season
Black Friday has come and gone which means the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. Not only do retailers know that, but porch pirates know that too. ‘Tis the season to be extra vigilant with your deliveries. Pirates
I’ve covered porch pirating on the show before and it’s worth talking about again because it’s not going away, in fact, stats say it’s getting worse.
Griching Your Christmas - Porch Pirates
As you know, I don’t like porch pirates. They are a Grinch in everyone’s Christmas. These people steal random boxes from people’s porches or mailboxes without really knowing what’s inside them. They could take paper towels or they could end up with a child’s medication.
I’ve been the victim of a porch pirate and they made off with a queen-size set of hypoallergenic sheets. I’m sure every porch pirate hopes to make off with an Xbox or something like that, but the chances of that are random and therefore I feel slim. And maybe that’s part of the thrill of the heist.
Why Do Porch Pirates Plunder?
So why do people do this? First being a porch pirate is not hard. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to create such a caper. A person with the intent to steal sees your package alone on the porch and walks off with it.
In other words, this is a crime with a low level of sophistication and little resistance, which is why they work so well.
In Mentor Ohio, the Mentor Police Department actually has an undercover unit working porch pirate cases. They will even be using bait boxes to catch people in the act. I think this is great, but since police departments are understaffed and overworked, porch pirates are low on the list of priorities of most departments. So it’s really up to us to make sure our deliveries make it inside.
Who Be They?
So you might wonder, who would do such a thing? Is there a profile for such a nefarious crime? Well, you’d be surprised.
My son is a fan of the YouTuber Mark Rober. You may not know his name, but I bet you’ve seen at least one of his videos that went viral a few years ago. Mark is the man who created the porch pirate glitter bomb.
Over the years, Mark has perfected his glitter bomb to include multiple cameras, GPS tracking, fart spray, microphones, and even more glitter. But what I found so interesting is what the cameras revealed about the people who took the bait glitter bomb packages.
Mark and his team set up a ton of surveillance so they know when the package has been taken and what the person looks like who took nabbed the package. But when the boxes are opened in private by the pirates, that’s when we see that they’re average people.
Yes, some alleged pirates looked like they spent most of their time getting high and doing dumb stuff. But the majority looked like you and me, average people who would never rob a bank, or take candy from a baby. They were old, young, well-dressed, and walking dogs.
When the boxes were opened presumably in the porch pirates' home, their houses looked nice and clean. In fact, one glitter bomb package was opened in a beautiful child’s nursery. This goes to show that a crime of opportunity is sometimes just too much for people, even nice people, to pass up.
And I’ll make a quick note, if you Google Mark Rober and Porch Pirate you may see articles from 2018 saying that the original video was staged. That’s not accurate. Apparently unbeknownst to Mark, two people who stole the packages were friends of the people who placed the bait boxes.
That footage was removed in 2018 and he worked to make sure that didn’t happen again. So any of the videos you see now are to be considered legitimate. Including a heartbreaking conversation picked up by a bait box microphone between a small child and their mother which the child confesses to like stealing.
Defeating Porch Pirates
So how do we fight back? Many of us have cameras that cover our front door. It could be a doorbell camera or a covert camera, but these are not as effective as we once thought.
Social media and YouTube are full of videos of people stealing packages from porches. That means that pirates are not concerned about being recorded committing their crimes. With the rise of the COVID mask, many people feel emboldened to steal from a house regardless of being filmed in the process. They know they won’t be identified and if they do, it’s not like they’re looking at life in prison.
So cameras are good, they’re just not the deterrent that we once thought they were. The best we can hope for is to get footage of a car they might be using and work with your neighbors to try and get a license plate to give the police.
Mutiny: The Power of Numbers
Speaking of your neighbors, let’s leverage the power of numbers against thieves. In the event you have an important delivery that you can’t get yourself, see if a trusted neighbor can hold it for you.
If you see a suspicious person or car in your neighborhood, grab a picture from your cameras and post it on your neighborhood group. It may turn out to be nothing, so make sure you word your post carefully not to be offensive. Also looking at what others post on the NextDoor app can be helpful too. But not always, there are some crazies in every zip code.
And there are decent lockable delivery boxes for your home. These are large, lockable boxes that hold packages on your porch. No one can really tell if a package is in the box unless they are following the delivery truck. Only you and the delivery people have the code to open and close the box, so your packages can be kept inside.
I do suggest that if you have a big ticket item like an iPhone being delivered to your home, try to be at home when it arrives. I’ve done this exact thing before. This way you can make sure you get it and you’re not leaving it to chance. But if you can’t leave work to get a delivery, then you might want to follow my next tip.
Davy Jone’s Locker
Since porch pirating isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, you might want to invest in a mailbox at a UPS store. For a monthly fee, you can have a delivery address for your packages that will be held behind locked doors. Depending on how much you order online, this might be a good use of your money. Honestly, it’s not really that convenient, but it keeps packages off of your porch. And it’s probably the best solution to this continuing problem.
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