Nowadays, many of us know all too well the perils of package theft. We shop online for gifts, clothes, gadgets, even groceries, and then – when our deliveries are left out in the open on our stoops for hours – they’re quite easily snatched from their rightful owners. So much for holiday spirit.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, incidents of package delivery theft are expected to spike. Last year, from Black Friday through Christmas, FedEx estimated they delivered 317 million packages, UPS 630 million, and the USPS 600 million. And cars and homes aren’t immune to holiday-themed theft either.
But there are ways to prevent Grinch-like thieves from stealing your holiday joy.
First, in the event that you arrive home expecting a delivery that isn’t there, you have a few places to turn for replacement and reimbursement.
First, Will Insurance Cover Package Theft?
If you have renters or homeowners insurance, your packages should be covered by your policy.
“Once the items are delivered, you own them,” explains Neil Richardson, The Zebra’s own licensed insurance agent and adviser. “However, the deductible is often higher than the value of the delivered items, so whatever was stolen would have to be worth more than the deductible in order for you to be reimbursed.”
Deductibles vary for renters and homeowners insurance policies, and in general, if you choose a lower deductible, your insurance policy will cost you more each month. The average deductible for most renters and homeowners policies generally falls between $500 and $1,000. If you’re expecting the delivery of high-ticket items, it’s good to know you’re covered.
Another catch to using your renters or homeowners insurance to cover items stolen from outside your home: you’ll have to prove the package was actually stolen from your home and not lost in transit or delivered to the wrong address. If you can’t prove it was stolen from your home, your insurer could argue that the delivery company is responsible for replacement. If your home has security cameras, making your case will be easier. And, if your security system has connected technology, you might even be alerted to unusual (thieving) activity and be able to act, even if you aren’t at home.
You might also find help from your credit card company.
American Express, for example, covers up to $1,000 per theft and $50,000 per calendar year for stolen and damaged packages (as long as you made the purchase with your AMEX). Other credit cards have similar programs, so check with yours.
Security footage (and a “connected home”) can help.
As mentioned above, in order to file a successful claim with your renters or homeowners insurance company, you’ll have to verify that your package had been delivered and was indeed stolen from your property. Footage from surveillance cameras can be a huge help.
Further, security cameras connected to the internet can be a powerful deterrent for thieves. Nest Cams and similar products can potentially allow you to catch would-be thieves in the act. Nest Cams have a “Talk & Listen” function which lets owners communicate through a microphone and speaker. Some users have shouted through their connected security systems and cameras to scare off unsuspecting thieves.
A friend of our team at The Zebra actually caught a woman stealing a package off of his porch in the middle of the day (notice her oh-so-casual “I know these people” moves), but was unable to deter the theft. If the owner had been watching the theft live he could have yelled through the camera to frighten her away, much like this homeowner scaring away robbers.
But even if you aren’t able to stop the thief in his or her tracks, if you have a home surveillance system, at least you have the crime – and perhaps even his or her identity – caught on camera.
7 Ways to Prevent Holiday Package Theft
As you’re out shopping and running errands this holiday season, take a few steps to ensure you’re not an easy target for the Harry’s and the Marv’s of your neighborhood.
- If you’re planning a day of shopping at the mall or local businesses, bring a blanket to cover your bags while you’re away from the car and keep the receipts with you. If items are stolen from your car, you’ll need to use your renters or homeowners insurance as your car insurance won’t cover the items.
- Have items delivered to your place of work instead of your home (if your company allows), or to the leasing office if you live in an apartment (and, again, if the property allows).
- Keep home blinds and curtains closed. Sure, you want to show off your holiday decor, but don’t make it easier for would-be thieves to find a lucrative mark.
- Leave delivery drop-off instructions for more secure places, such as the side of the house, at the back door or in the garage, or even with a neighbor. You can specify the drop-off location ahead of time with the USPS, FedEx, and UPS online.
- Pick up your deliveries. The USPS allows package recipients to pick up their goods at the post office and the USPS now also allows people to pick up deliveries at secure Go Post locations, which offer secure and automated self-service lockers and are often located near grocery stores, shopping centers, or other busy places. You Heart Amazon? Amazon offers self-service lockers in which people can pick up their deliveries (and, conveniently, drop off returns). The lockers are located in many major cities at hundreds of locations.
- Track when your package will arrive and be ready to receive it. UPS has My Choice for delivery customization so you can sign up to receive advance notice of when your package will arrive. Schedule accordingly, or if the delivery time doesn’t work for you, just reschedule it. You can have your packages held for pickup at a UPS location.
- Use new anti-theft tech, including connected home devices like the Nest Cam previously mentioned, or some newer products. The Package Guard recently received funding for their anti-package theft device, which is about the size of a frisbee, affixes to your stoop or porch, and alerts you immediately when a package is delivered – and if it’s removed from the spot. If a package is removed without authorization, a loud alarm sounds.
We hope these ideas help to keep your packages safe this holiday season (and all year round). Wishing you happy shopping and safe delivery!