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I got an email recently from a reader, Russell, who wanted me to write an article about how to secure deliveries made to your home. I always welcome reader feedback and I’m glad to help. So thanks Russell, you can take full credit for this one.
This year more shoppers said they planned to do their Black Friday shopping online rather than brave the crowds, and maybe a fist fight, at a store. The Secure Mom has been ahead of this trend for a few years. She likes to shop online during peak shopping days.
The shift in online shopping means a that there are going to be a lot of deliveries this holiday season. We as good folks know that, and so do thieves. Unoccupied homes with a porch full of packages is an easy target for a Grinch. I know, I’ve had a package stolen from my home.
It used to be that thieves rode around looking for your trash the first collection day after Christmas to see what you got. They’d see TV boxes, game console boxes and gift bags from jewelry stores sitting out in the open for anyone to see. Now we have to worry about these same thieves stealing our stuff before we even get it.
Here are a few ways to make sure your packages don’t get stolen this holiday season.
Get Shipping Notifications
Online retailers like Amazon are really good about giving you the option to get shipping notifications. They can come via email or text. Use this information to plan when you can expect a delivery to arrive. From here you can plan to be home to get the item yourself.
Recently, I had to get a new iPhone. I ordered it from Apple and it came the next day. The notifications I received let me know the delivery would be made between 1pm and 4pm. While blocking out three hours of my day to sit at home and wait for the doorbell to ring isn’t fun, I made an exception for a $550 phone.
Hide Your Boxes
Some carries will allow you to leave instructions for the delivery person. You may be able to leave detailed instructions on where you want your packages dropped off. For example you can have them stuff them under a bench, behind a flower pot or in the bushes. Most delivery people are good about hiding your packages, but it never hurts to coordinate with them.
You may consider getting a cheap holiday decoration for your front porch. Think a sign or small display of some sort. Then leave instructions for the delivery person to leave the packages behind the decoration. Just make sure what you choose could hide your packages well.
Hopefully your hiding will go better than it did for this house:
Image Source: BoingBoing.net
Ship it to Work
If you aren’t comfortable with your items being delivered to your empty home while you are at work, you may have them shipped to your office. Here the packages can be signed for and you can get them as soon as the mail room calls you. But this one depends on your office policies and managers. If they are cool with it, then I’d suggest you send your big ticket items to the office.
Have Someone Else Get Them
If you can’t swing by your home on your lunch break you may need some help getting your packages secured. Consider asking a trusted neighbor to pick up your stuff and hold it until you come home. If you don’t want them to pick them up, you can ask them to keep an eye out for them until you arrive home.
Get a PO Box
It may be a worthwhile investment to get a PO Box at your local UPS store. For a few bucks a month you can have all of your important mail locked up securly at a store instead of sitting out, unprotected, in the mailbox.
You may remember that UPS won’t deliver to a PO Box. That’s true, sort of. They won’t deliver to a Postal Service box, but they will deliver to their own stores. You can have your boxes sent to the store where you have your PO Box and they will hold them for you.
Secure Pick Up Point
UPS offers My Choice which is basically an account with UPS. Here you can reroute your delivers to a “UPS access point”. There are places like UPS Stores where you can go in person and pick up your deliveries. You might have to provide ID and wait in line, but it’s a safe option.
You can also choose to pick up Amazon items at an Amazon Locker. Of course these are only in select locations, in fact there are entire states that don’t have them. But if you are ordering from Amazon, check and see if there is one nearby.
Image Source: PC World
Security Cameras are great tools, but they are passive. The only way they can be proactive is if the thief sees the camera and decides it’s not worth it. I suggest you get a security camera installed on your porch and then get a surveillance sign to go with it. This might scare off low-level low life into never stepping onto your porch in the first place.
Click here to look at a surveillance sign on Amazon.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of having a camera installed at your home, you can do it yourself with a light bulb. Yep, the old camera in the light bulb trick. Screw this into your existing porch fixture and get a birds-eye view of where your packages will be delivered.
Click here to look at a security camera light bulb on Amazon.
I hate signature required deliveries. I think they are a pain, but they do have their advantages. A carrier won’t leave a package until someone signs for it. If you’re not there to sign for it then there won’t be a box left by your door. You can call the carrier later to pick up the package a carrier facility. To keep deliveries running smoothly, if you select signature required, then be there to get it. Don’t make UPS, FedEx and DHL jump through hoops.
Get a Secure Mailbox
Secure mailboxes are these huge, steel boxes with keyed entry. There are two types, one that attaches to your home and ones that go on a post at the street. If you’re going to get one, make sure it’s big enough to receive small boxes for medications and the like. The advantage here is that all of your mail will be secure in the box, not just small packages.
I couldn’t call myself The Secure Dad if I didn’t warn you about these. If you get a big, honking steel mailbox and set it at the street you might attract some attention. If a savvy thief sees one house on the street with a secure mailbox then he’s going to wonder what valuables you’re getting on a regular basis. This may increase the likelihood of a home invasion. Consider this before you purchase a secure mailbox.
You can also get a package protector vault. This is a large, steel lock box that is bolted down to your porch. The packages are dropped off inside and you can open it when you arrive home. It works much like a library book return box.
I hope these ideas work for you. If you have any suggestions, I’ll be happy to add the good ones to this post. For more on home security for the holidays, consider The Secure Dad Newsletter.