Don’t Let Porch Pirates Steal Your Christmas


The holiday shopping season is in full swing.  Online sellers have diligently worked with their delivery carriers to establish consistent delivery times and well-communicated order deadlines for gifts to arrive in time for Christmas.  Yet in spite of the planning, staffing and reliable execution by those filling and delivering eCommerce orders, a significant number of gifts will fail to get to their intended recipient due to package theft from the front door, porch or other unattended delivery location.

Porch Pirates have stolen packages from 11 million US homeowners in the last year, according to research commissioned by August Home.  According to the study, U.S. homeowners receive an average of 27 packages each year, 26% receive deliveries at least once a week. Fifty three percent (53%) of homeowners worry that their packages may get stolen.  And with online sales volume increasing and estimated 15.8% this year the potential problem is getting more serious.

Typically, delivery carriers have internal guidelines as to where their drivers may leave packages.  Unless a recipient signature is required, delivery companies routinely leave a package at the door and may or may not ring the doorbell or knock.

So Who Can Solve the Problem?


For the most part, the primary approach for many retailers like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, REI and many other brick and mortar retailers is to order online and pick up in store.  While 92% of Shorr Packaging Survey respondents preferred delivery to their home, 71% of people said they are open to having packages delivered to a secure location with a locker. Nearly everyone is familiar with Amazon’s Lockers that are sprinkled in over 2,000 locations in 50 US cities.

In a creative twist, both Walmart and Amazon are testing delivery inside the home.  Walmart has teamed up with August Home and Deliv to provide delivery of packages and groceries into customers’ homes. Amazon launched Amazon Key for Prime customers. This pilot program lets you install an electronic lock so delivery drivers can open it to put your packages inside. The lock is also tied to a security camera that records footage of the delivery to the customer.


FedEx, UPS and the US Postal Service deliver a large percentage of eCommerce orders in the US. Each carrier has implemented programs to address the porch theft problem.

UPS has introduced My Choice which is a free subscription service that alerts consumers when packages are scheduled to be delivered and enables recipients to reschedule time or location of delivery. However, some of these services such as change of delivery address or 2-hour delivery window, require upgrading to Premium My Choice for $40/year.

FedEx offers its customers FedEx Delivery Manager which, like My Choice, provides the ability to tailor your deliveries to meet your needs.

US Postal Service, the carrier which handles more eCommerce packages than any other carrier, is also providing a way to manage your deliveries the USPS Informed Delivery

Thinking “Inside” the Box

There are a number of solutions for secure residential delivery provided by 3rd parties. These approaches are split between multi-tenant solutions,  such as Package Concierge, and single family residential solutions, such as Ucella and Jeffrie, which have not yet gained traction in the market These solutions work in similar manner, featuring secure access via smartphone along with notifications. These secure residential delivery solutions are carrier/retailer agnostic meaning that shipments from any retailer delivered by any carrier can be securely received. In addition, these solutions also facilitate convenient returns by providing secure, unattended pick up.

Thinking “Outside” the Box

Video surveillance solutions like Ring and August Home represent another approach to improve secure home delivery.  If would be thieves are aware they are being recorded, this might be a deterrent. However, success in catching Porch Pirates from a video recording is rather limited.  Even if a high-quality image is captured, identifying the culprit is a difficult according to Redwood City, California Police Officer Chris Rasmussen. Posting videos to social media only occasionally identifies the suspect in part because many of these Porch Pirates travel from other regions and are not known locally.

So, while there is no one solution that stands out above others, there are a number of reasonable ways to deter theft. The examples cited are just some of many solutions available today. More solutions are certain to come along in the near future but for now, the best advice we at GrandCanals can give is to look at which approaches suit your circumstances and move ahead accordingly.

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