As more people do their holiday and Black Friday shopping online, carriers have noted a huge jump in deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. In 2017 UPS alone forecasted it would deliver more than 750 million packages worldwide in that time frame.1 That also creates a lot of easy opportunity for petty theft. Fortunately, you can take a lot of steps to avoid having your package swiped during the holidays.
Tips to prevent package theft
Work with carriers to keep packages out of plain sight
A lot of package carriers will coordinate with you to better conceal your packages. If you can’t specify delivery instructions while checking out online, the easiest thing to do is leave a note at your home in plain sight with delivery instructions. Delivery drivers are usually willing to work with you, whether that means hiding packages somewhere on your front porch or leaving them at the side or back of your house.
Ship packages directly to your office
Porch pirates are most active on weekdays when you’re at work, the kids are at school, and your packages are left waiting for you on the porch. Shipping packages directly to your work, if possible, is a foolproof way to outsmart would-be package thieves.
Work with your neighbors
If you have trusted neighbors who usually stay home during the day, ask if they’d be willing to accept occasional deliveries that you don’t want sitting out while you’re at work. Having someone else accept your delivery is a fairly a big ask, so make sure you have a favor to offer in return. That’s the neighborly thing to do.
Get a video doorbell
Video doorbells have evolved with camera technology to become effective tools for monitoring your front door, porch, and yard. They’re made with wide-angle lenses (sometimes up to 180º) so you can see the entire front of your home. The resolution is also high enough that you can catch license plate numbers or detailed face grabs to help catch porch thieves in the act. If that sounds like a good option for your home, take a look at our favorite video doorbells below.
What to do when your package is stolen
If you suspect a package was stolen, you’ll want to act quickly. Most major carriers have real-time tracking information that you can check to determine whether your package was actually delivered. If the package was delivered but it’s nowhere to be found, you’ll want to check with the seller and carrier to see who has the best policy for reimbursing your lost items.
If you want to recover your stolen package with the shipper, note that the recovery process will differ between carriers. Below we’ve broken down the stolen package policies from the four biggest carriers in the US.
If an expected USPS shipment has been missing for seven business days, you can file a missing mail claim. They’ll want to know the sender and recipient addresses, package dimensions, tracking number, and a description of the package’s contents.
If you ship anything valuable with USPS, it’s worth insuring the package. That way, if your shipment is determined lost, you’ll be refunded the shipping costs and the insured package. For uninsured packages you’ll be refunded only the shipping cost.
If you have a lost or stolen package, FedEx lets either you or the seller file a claim to cover your losses. The company typically covers up to $100 of the total value of the shipment, or the total amount that you insured. FedEx typically processes lost or stolen package claims quickly––more often than not in less than a week from filing your claim.
Unfortunately, as the recipient of a lost or stolen UPS package, there isn’t a lot you can do beyond contacting the seller. The seller can either refund you or file a claim to recoup the lost shipment with UPS. So make sure you at least have the seller’s contact info before shipping packages via UPS.
Amazon offers one of the most customer-friendly policies for dealing with lost or stolen packages. Its A-to-z Guarantee covers up to $2,500 of the purchase price on lost, stolen, or damaged Amazon-bought items.
The A-to-z Guarantee first requires you to contact the Amazon seller to seek a refund. If the seller is unwilling to work with you, you can file a claim. Note that claims have to be filed within between 15 and 90 days from the purchase date. If your claim is accepted you’re eligible to receive a full refund up to that $2,500 limit.
Preparation is key
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of package theft during the holidays is to prepare in advance. Communicate with your carriers to ensure your packages are delivered out of plain sight while you’re away at work. And if you don’t have an outdoor camera or video doorbell, consider getting one—they can give you a set of eyes on your porch when you can’t be there.