Porch Pirates


Image: iStock

Neighborhood Safe Neighborhood, #13

by Staff Neighborhood Safety Reporter

According to SafeWise.com, around 210 million packages have disappeared from America’s doorsteps in the past 12 months. Seattle is #4 of their "10 Worst Metro Cities for Package Theft in 2021."

If you subscribe to local NextDoor social media, you have read postings from many of the victims and seen the security video recordings they have attached. It is not surprising that in a survey by the American Journal of Criminal Justice, 23% of people said they have been victims of porch piracy.

It can happen quickly! Some criminals watch delivery trucks; targeting homes after the delivery is made. According to Dr. Ben Stickle, an expert on criminal justice, package theft and a member of the SafeWise advisory group, "Package theft is a crime of opportunity … as the Christmas gift season gets into full swing, there will be a significant increase in packages on a porch … it’s likely the value of packages has increased as well, making numerous targets even more tempting.”

There are no special skills needed to walk up a driveway and steal a package. Porch Pirates have a low risk of being apprehended and prosecuted; even if caught, punishment is minimal.

As long as you have products delivered to your doorstep, there’s a chance your package could be a target.

What can you do to prevent becoming their next victim?


__ You can shop on-line with many area stores. Look for a curb-side delivery option at their retail location nearest you. If the item is in stock, you can usually pick it up on the same day. When your order is ready, head to the store, confirm your pickup, and someone will bring your purchases to your car. Local merchants also appreciate your patronage!


__ Request a signature upon delivery.

__ Purchase an oversize lock box for your porch. Your package is placed inside an anti-theft drop slot and you’ll receive a notification that your package is secure. Add a code to unlock the bottom door for your delivery driver to place larger packages below. Depending on the make and model you choose, it can include a camera, alarm, electronic notifications, etc. Here are a couple of options, or search: “Lockable delivery boxes”:




__ Turn your garage into a delivery locker with “In-Garage delivery” available for Amazon Prime customers:



__ Install security cameras or video doorbells. You can see who’s at your front door – whether you’re home or not. Integrated microphone and speaker allow you to speak to the visitor. You can be immediately notified on your smartphone when motion is detected. However, most Porch Pirates are not intimidated by video cameras! Local police do appreciate copies of your video to help ID the criminals, but it is unlikely your package(s) will be recovered.


__ Have important packages sent to a workplace or a trusted neighbor who will be home at the time of delivery.

__ Amazon has multiple locker locations where you can pick up your package at a time that's convenient for you. When your package is delivered to the Amazon Locker, you'll receive an e-mail notification with a unique pick-up code that includes the address and opening times for your selected Locker location. Go to amazon.com/findalocker

__ United Parcel Service offers UPS Access Point® lockers. You will receive a notification alert via email or SMS when the parcel arrives. Just bring a photo ID to pick up your package. Also, if you are mailing a package from a UPS location, you can specify “Hold for pickup” at another Access Point near the location you are sending it to:


__ FedEx offers similar security with their FedEx Delivery Manager:


__ US Postal Service offers a range of PO Box sizes to hold mail and packages at a Post Office facility near you. Many locations allow 24/7 PO Box access, and if a package is too large to fit in your box, they will hold it for you. Some locations offer free Premium PO Box Services such as smartphone alerts to let you know when you have mail.


Keep in mind that many of these crimes occur during broad daylight. Please look out for your neighbors.

Be alert and report suspicious behavior to the police, especially if you see a delivery truck making the rounds and a vehicle following behind. Other suspicious behavior includes: occupied vehicles parked on the side of the road, the same car repeatedly driving by, or unfamiliar suspects on foot. When calling the police, tell them your location, the suspect vehicle (make/model/color/number of doors), direction the car is traveling, describe the suspect(s) (gender, hair color, clothing, scars or tattoos).

If you are walking your dog, be the ‘eyes and ears’ in your neighborhood. Join “Paws on Patrol:”


You can also report suspicious activity to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service:












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Idea for Porch Pirates. What if ... many of us took some old delivery bag/boxes and inserted a BOOK on self-help or addiction-recovery inside ... and put it on our porch for a "Porch Pirate" to pick up. Maybe they would get the idea ... maybe even read one. I am sure there are used books we already have, or could find inexpensively at a thrift store ... It's a *bizarre* idea ... and kind of funny ... but nothing else has worked! Maybe it could go viral ...

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