Record Cyber Monday means watch out for package thieves

Published 7:41 pm Wednesday, December 5, 2018

By Insurance Council of Texas

To The Leader


This year’s Cyber Monday became the highest online shopping day of all time with a reported $8 billion in sales.  That means billions of dollars in products are on their way to the front porches of many homes where package thieves may be waiting.

Most of these packages will be delivered during the day when the majority of homeowners are away at work.  Law enforcement officers say the best method of preventing these crimes is having your packages delivered where the item can be received in person, with a next-door neighbor or at a secure drop box location.

“It’s not uncommon for people to follow delivery trucks or drive through neighborhoods looking for packages left on front porches,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas.

The Austin Police Department says securing your delivery is key to avoiding so-called “porch pirates.”

“If you can’t be home to receive your package, we highly recommend you have a designated pick-up place, the postal station, UPS, FedEx, dropbox-type locations, or even having a neighbor pick up the package,” said Sgt. Noel Guerin of the Austin Police Department.

“We just received a report of a 50 inch TV that had been delivered to a person’s front porch step and the homeowner was shocked that it had been stolen,” said Guerin.  “Be smart about what is shipped to your house.  If you are expecting a very valuable item like a TV, you should make certain that someone is home to meet its arrival and not a porch pirate.”

Other crime prevention tips include choosing a specific delivery time or asking for a delivery alert to know when to expect your package.  Utilizing your Neighborhood Watch program can be advantageous with an extra set of eyes guarding deliveries or having a neighbor take your package inside for safekeeping.

Additional recommendations to avoid having your packages stolen include:

  • Requesting that the delivery company hold your package at their closest pick-up facility until you can pick it up.
  • Asking the shipper to require a signature confirmation of delivery in order to prevent packages from being left when no one is home.
  • Providing delivery instructions so packages can be left out of sight from your yard or the road.
  • Tracking your order so that you will know when it will be delivered to your home.

If your package is stolen from your porch and was delivered via the postal service, you can file a mail theft complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. USPS will start your claims process.  You should also notify your local police department of the theft.

In addition, many credit card companies offer protection for members whose covered purchase ends up being stolen. The coverage is limited so check with your credit card company for specifics.

If you witness a possible package theft, don’t try to prevent the crime, but if possible, record the thief’s vehicle license number and a description of the suspected thief, and call 911.