Regular package deliveries are what got most of us through the pandemic. But the downside was the rise in package theft: About four in 10 Americans had a package stolen in 2020, up from 36 percent in 2019.
“Even as many customers shop and work from home, unattended deliveries create opportunities for thieves to steal packages before the resident collects them,” says Savannah Haeger, a spokesperson at FedEx.
And while some sites may have forgiving policies around refunds, others might require you to file claims and police reports. The easiest way to avoid the headache and hit to your wallet? Take a few extra steps to help protect your packages from thieves. Here are a few tips that can help.
TRACK YOUR PACKAGES FREQUENTLY
Tracking is a no-brainer, but if you’re expecting something extra important, consider signing up for text or email alerts that make it easier for you to check on the status of your deliveries.
Spencer Block, a postal inspector at the Chicago headquarters of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, also recommends signing up for the U.S. Postal Service’s free Informed Delivery, which shows you a visual sneak preview of the mail headed to your mailbox and lets you check packages’ delivery status.
GIVE DETAILED DELIVERY INSTRUCTIONS
The major delivery service providers, including the Postal Services’ Informed Delivery, FedEx and UPS, allow you to provide instructions if you won't be home to accept a package. Get as detailed as possible. For example, you could instruct the delivery driver to leave your package behind the planter on your front patio if it helps conceal it better from would-be thieves.
SCHEDULE YOUR DELIVERIES
One of the best ways to avoid leaving your packages out too long is to schedule the delivery for when you’re sure you’ll be home.
FedEx allows customers to schedule a delivery on a specific date during a specified timeframe. UPS customers can schedule a 2-hour delivery window for an extra fee. The Postal Service does not allow people to set a time for when their packages will be delivered — but it does let them schedule a specific day for missed packages to be redelivered.
REQUEST A VACATION HOLD
If you know you’re not going to be at home for an extended period, enroll in a mail hold service. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office for up to 30 days. FedEx provides free mail holding for up to 14 days. UPS will hold packages up to five days at no additional charge.
PICK UP AT A DROP-OFF LOCATION
If you’re willing to forgo some of the convenience of delivery to your doorstep, consider leaving your packages at pickup points so that you can retrieve them safely on your schedule. You can ship an item to an Amazon Hub Locker for free, where you can store them for up to three days. You can also ship UPS and FedEx packages to local pickup and drop-off points, which could include retailers near you.
INVEST IN SECURITY MEASURES
There are products and services you can pay for that can help provide an extra layer of protection for your packages. Here are a few examples.
Key By Amazon (free for Amazon Prime members). This service enables Amazon delivery workers to leave packages inside your garage. Note: You may need to purchase a smart garage device so the Amazon delivery workers can open and close your garage door.
CleverMade Parcel LockBox ($50). This steel all-weather box not only protects your packages from the elements but also from porch pirates. Share the access code with your delivery drivers and have them deposit your packages inside — it comes with an anchoring system that allows you to secure the unit to the ground.
BoxLock ($98). If you already have a sturdy container that can hold packages, secure it with this smart padlock that is opened with an access code. BoxLock also connects to a mobile app that sends you notices when packages are delivered.
Arlo Security Bundles ($225 and up). There are tons of security systems to choose from to help deter unwanted visitors on your doorstep, but Arlo provides multiple package options, depending on your needs and budget, that will alert you when motion or audio is detected.