Porch Pirates Prowl For Abandoned Packages

A ‘Porch Pirate’ steals a package off a porch. Package thefts are up in Buchanan County as online shopping grows in popularity.

Pirates are prowling looking to steal treasure, but not on a ship. They’re in neighborhoods. These so-called “porch pirates” prey on lonely packages dropped off by delivery drivers.

“It’s growing because more and more people are ordering things online, and when you start ordering more things online, you’re going to have more opportunistic losers that come around and try to steal these things,” Buchanan County Sheriff’s Deputy Lonnie Bishop said.

The thieves follow delivery drivers, make sure no one is home and snatch the package. They also might just pass by an abandoned package.

“We’ll get a call from a mail person, U.S. Postal Service, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, listen. This car has been following me for the last couple blocks,’” Bishop said.

Goin’ Postal owner Rhonda Blaylock said she gets calls often about packages missing after a delivery driver drops them off. Bishop said it is a growing problem as more people are ordering online.

“They’re either going to get a $10 widget from China, or they’re going to get a $400 X-box,” Bishop said.

Shipping insurance does not cover package theft. Some mail delivery services take photos of the packages on the porch to prove the package was delivered.

“If it is delivered to your house, they’ve done their job and they’re no longer paying for stolen packages. So, it’s your responsibility to have someone there to collect the package,” Blaylock said.

There are some steps you can take to prevent package thefts from happening.

You can have packages delivered to your workplace or to someone who is home and add a signature.

“If you get a signature required on your package, then the person receiving it, you can make it a direct signature where only that person can sign for it,” Blaylock said. “You can make an adult signature where any adult in the house over 18 can sign for the package or can just make it a signature required and then anybody who answers the door can sign.”

You can track your packages and sign up for alerts or have the delivery service hold on to your package at a distribution facility. Amazon has lockers at Gordmans you can have its packages sent to.

There are also some tech solutions out there that can help. One option is video camera doorbells. An app alerts you when there is motion on your porch and lets you talk to whoever is there.

“You can communicate with the delivery driver and also see who’s coming up to your door when you’re away. There are even smart garage control devices out there that can even allow a delivery driver to even drop off the package in your garage where it’s safe and sound while you’re away,” said Angelica Fonseca, Best Buy in-home advisor.

Security cameras also help stop people from taking packages. If you have a video camera and someone takes your package, you can give officials critical information captured on camera.

“One of the best things that people can do is get a description of the people, if they can get a description of the car and as we’re responding, we’re going to be looking for that vehicle. We’re going to be looking for those people walking down the street,” Bishop said.

Even if you don’t have any information on your package being taken, Bishop recommends reporting the theft to help find trends and patterns.