The holiday season is big business for porch pirates. The U.S. Postal Service is projecting 800 million package deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. And an estimated 23 million Americans have had a package stolen from their front porch or mailbox.
This summer, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law making it a felony to steal packages off front porches, but that’s not likely to deter every thief. The Better Business Bureau reminds consumers that there are steps that can be taken to prevent porch pirates from getting away with the goods.
Online ordering has made it convenient to shop both during the holidays and the rest of the year. However, your doorstep is a thief’s favorite place to shop and is no longer a safe place for deliveries.
The BBB offers the following tips to keep pesky porch pirates away from your packages:
■ Keep track: Make sure you know which company is delivering your package, and save the receipt and tracking number by printing it out or saving the email.
■ Signature confirmation: Request a signature confirmation upon delivery. This will prevent the delivery person from leaving the package unattended.
■ Delivery time: Request a time for the package to be delivered when you’re at home. If you know you won’t be home, consider having packages delivered to your employment or a trusted neighbor/friend who will be at home or have them look out for the package and hold it until you get home.
■ Special instructions for delivery: Ask the delivery company to leave your packages somewhere it can’t be seen from the street.
■ Pick up at delivery company: You may opt to pick up the package at the delivery company. This service can be used if the package is being sent to someone else; just redirect the package to a pick-up facility closest to the recipient. The company will contact the recipient to let them know they have a delivery waiting for them.
■ Install home security cameras: While no one is immune, consider installing security cameras, both as a deterrent as well as to assist if you become a victim of a porch pirate.
■ Neighborhood package watch: It’s very important consumers to be watchful for criminals canvassing neighborhoods looking for packages left on doorsteps. Ask your neighbors to watch for deliveries and agree to secure each other’s packages. Please remember to report suspicious behavior to local law enforcement.
■ Delivery alerts: Many delivery companies offer — at no cost — text notification to your cellphone when a package has been delivered. Take advantage of delivery alerts and call a trusted neighbor as soon as you learn your package has arrived. Contact the store immediately if your package is not received when indicated.
■ Bolted lockbox: Consider purchasing a steel box that can be bolted down to any kind of surface. Insert the code into “special instruction” area for delivery and have the delivery company put the packages in the box.
For more advice on staying safe this holiday season or to share your experience with a business, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB Scam Tracker.