Where the Most Package Theft Occurs During the Holidays — And How To Prevent It

Porch Pirate Steals Packages Horizontal stock photo
AvailableLight / iStock.com

Delivery theft happens everywhere, but there are some places in America that, for whatever reason, are favored by “porch pirates.” While perhaps not as intrusive as home invasion or burglary, package theft is an upsetting crime that can be as frustrating as it is expensive.

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According to its fifth annual Package Theft in America report, home security experts Safewise found that around 260 million packages were stolen from outside U.S. homes over the past 12 months, marking an increase of 50 million since last year’s results. It is a sad-but-true fact that 79% of Americans have been a victim of package theft in the last 12 months, losing a total $19.5 billion in the process, per the report.

As the busy holiday delivery season approaches, opportunities for thieves will increase dramatically. Safewise’s criminal justice and theft expert Dr. Ben Stickle warned, “People are busier this time of year and have their routine shifted as they may work later,” also noting they are likely to “spend more time away from home shopping or visiting with family and friends.” Such activities can so leave packages sitting alone on porches for hours at a time.

Make Your Money Work for You

Using Google Ads (formerly AdWords) data over the last five years related to searches for stolen and missing packages, delivery route planner Circuit released a study tracking where in the U.S. you might be more likely to get parcels stolen or lost during the coming holiday season — or any time of year, for that matter.

Places with the Most Lost Packages Over the Past 5 Years (searches per 100,000 residents):

  1. Washington, District of Columbia (Washington) – 669.2
  2. Vermont – 327.5
  3. North Dakota – 294.6
  4. Wyoming – 293.7
  5. Delaware – 289.4
  6. Alaska – 288.6
  7. Rhode Island – 275.7
  8. Washington – 233.4
  9. South Dakota – 228.2
  10. California – 224.4

California came in tenth place in Circuit’s search study for states with the most lost packages, and is also the unfortunate home to three of the top ten cities that have experienced the most package thefts over the last five years. In Sunnyvale, CA, approximately 1.5% of the city’s population searched for stolen parcels recently, per Circuit’s research.

Cities with the Most Lost Packages Over the Past 5 Years (searches per 100,000 residents):

  1. Sunnyvale, CA – 1,535.5
  2. Bellevue, WA – 1,439.3
  3. Salt Lake City, UT – 1,368.4
  4. Alexandria, VA – 1,258.5
  5. Hayward, CA – 1,098.2
  6. Pomona, CA – 1,092.8
  7. Fort Lauderdale, FL – 1,073.9
  8. Lakewood, CO – 1,069.9
  9. Rochester, NY – 1.059.7
  10. Knoxville, TN – 1.046.1
Make Your Money Work for You

We now know where thieves have previously hit customers the most, but crooks can strike anywhere, and in any state or city. Short of staking out your own house for delivery couriers, there are several popular preventative strategies you can take to minimize the chances of becoming a victim of theft.

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As AARP reported, with holiday spending and shipping soon skyrocketing, you owe it to yourself to defend your home deliveries with the following safeguarding steps:

  1. Grab that Package: It goes without saying, but an unattended parcel becomes more and more inviting to a thief. Unless a company is inexplicably charging you for tracking, get it and use it. If you’re not going to be home, have a friendly neighbor pick it up for you.
  2. Sign on the Dotted Line: Always opt for a “signature required” when receiving a parcel unless you know it can be delivered safely and away from public access.
  3. Pick it Up Yourself: All shipping couriers — Amazon, FedEx, UPS, USPS — have outlets or storage locations that customers can get parcels sent to and will usually leave a notice if a signature-required package will need to be picked up. Additionally, many stores have pick-up/ship-to-store options for delivery.
  4. Hold It Until Later: If you are going to be away from your house for a period of time, request to put your home delivery on hold through the U.S. Postal Service.
  5. Out of Sight: Mail goes in your mailbox or door slot, but with deliveries, you can usually assign special delivery locations for ordered packages. If you want a package left behind a house pillar or at the back or side door, simply request it.
  6. Smile, You’re on Camera: Think about mounting a door camera or installing a motion detection device. Doorbell cameras and security apps are popular choices and are becoming more frequent and less expensive all the time.
  7. Be an Attentive Neighbor: Being neighborly isn’t about giving a quick wave while cutting the grass. Good neighbors are helpful and watchful, noticing when there is suspicious activity in the area which you both live and being there when you can’t be. Many neighborhoods have been part of Crime Stopper programs for years and with Nextdoor.com, communities can come together to secure the area in which they live.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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