UPS, Federal Express and the Postal Service will be busy delivering packages in the next few weeks. Securing delivered packages can be difficult. Too often the TV news has video of someone going up to a front porch and then walking (or running) away with a package that had been left a few minutes before. Before the advent of inexpensive security camera systems, the homeowner would be out of luck. With cameras, at least the victim homeowner can show police who took the package.
Preventing package theft can be difficult. For most of us, having a package waiting on our front doorstep makes it vulnerable to theft. Even if a neighbor picks it up for you, soon after it is delivered, or you have a camera covering your front porch, the package can be gone. You can’t expect your neighbor to have their eyes glued to your house all day. And your camera cannot stop a thief. All it can do is show a picture of a thief.
Crime prevention professionals often talk in terms of “hardening the target” and taking away “opportunity” for a theft. One way to harden the target might be to have a locking box that the UPS or FedEx driver can deposit your package into. No one makes a locking box that is easy to use for the driver or the homeowner. And if they did, then there is a problem of how big to make it; too small and larger packages can’t be placed in it, too large and it may not be practical to place on the front porch.
Taking away opportunity would mean that the package is not visible from the street. Some things that you can do to take away opportunity include:
- Request a signature on delivery. This means that whoever accepts the package signs for it ensuring that the driver hands it to someone at the delivery destination. If no one is available to sign for it, the driver will try to deliver it on another day.
- Instruct the delivery service to leave the package someplace that is out of sight of the street, such as the back door.
- One other option that UPS offers is to enter your garage code as part of your profile in their free My Choice service. When the driver is 10 feet from your house, he/she is given your code to open the garage door. The driver can place the package in your garage and then close the door. The code disappears from the driver’s handheld when he/she is beyond 10 feet from your house.
Encourage your neighbors who stay at home to be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles (for example following delivery trucks) and report them to 911 right away.
This is where locking mailboxes have an advantage. Many residential locking mailbox units that serve 4, 8 or more houses have one or two locked package compartments. While UPS and FedEx drivers do not have access to these units, when a package is delivered by your postal carrier it is secure.
You can also:
· Have your packages delivered to your work address or to a neighbor’s address.
· Have your packages sent to a nearby UPS or FedEx Office location.
Protecting your delivered packages is currently an imperfect proposition. To have absolute security from the time the package delivery company accepts it to your hands may require some inconvenience. While cameras can act as somewhat of a deterrent, they are not perfect. If you are not picking up your package at a UPS, FedEx, or Postal Service facility or at work, taking your package into your house as soon as possible after delivery may be your best strategy to preventing package theft.