Porch Pirate Thefts Thwart Holiday Cheer

Columbus, OH (December 23, 2023) – With surges in last-minute purchases and rush deliveries from various retailers, an unfortunate trend resurfaces – package theft. Judy Dollison, President of Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, warns, “It’s a crime of opportunity – scammers and thieves exploit seasonal triggers. Some of these high-value purchases are too tempting to resist, and even smaller items are not immune.”

Even despite the presence of security cameras, unattended packages remain vulnerable to porch pirates.

Dollison underscores the point, stating, “Package thieves, often known as ‘porch pirates,’ seize opportunities and may target a neighborhood or community repeatedly before moving on. They favor homes with a quick in-and-out route, especially when the porch or delivery area is visible from the street within 25 feet.”

Some porch pirates even tail delivery trucks, seeking valuable packages. Central Ohio consumers can proactively protect purchases. BBB advises vigilance and following a few simple tips to prevent theft, irrespective of the retailer.

BBB’s Top 4 Tips to Prevent Porch Pirate Package Poaching:

Change delivery location. Send packages to a different but trusted location, such as picking up directly from the store.

Have Amazon packages delivered to their Hub Lockers or Hub Counters, available in more than 900 locations in the U.S. with 21 in Columbus, Ohio alone.  Lockers are located in convenience stores, supermarkets, Whole Foods, and even apartment buildings. Consumers can use these lockers for returns, too, even if a locker wasn’t the original method of delivery.

Change delivery instructions.
Before clicking on ‘purchase,’ buyers can often customize delivery instructions. Consumers may still be able to make delivery changes by clicking on an order in their order history and then rescheduling the delivery for a time they will be home, or give instructions to place the package out of view, like in a backyard or behind a bush. Consumers can also require a signature or give the workers a code to a lockbox or parcel box.

Deliver it to someone else.
Consumers who can’t be home during the time of delivery could send packages to someone who will be. This could be a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member.

Delivery alerts can cut down ‘unattended’ time.
Ensure that delivery alerts are enabled whether you’ll be home or not. Even if a consumer has a security camera or video doorbell, this will help keep track of packages after they’re delivered.  Package poaching can take only a matter of seconds.

For More Information

Receiving packages from Amazon that you didn’t order? See our article on Amazon brushing scams.

Learn more about avoiding scam social media ads when shopping online. Read about scammers’ tracking code tricks.

For more advice, read BBB’s tips on online shopping. If you’ve spotted an online scam, report it to BBB ScamTracker.

Subscribe to BBB Scam Alerts for weekly updates about new scams.