Person stealing delivery package from porch steps, surveillance camera view

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CHICAGO, Ill. — While the holiday season may be in the rearview mirror now, many consumers are likely still dealing with the problem of stolen packages. A recent survey finds nearly half of America had a package stolen in 2020. Researchers say the problem is even worse when you consider how many people are doing their shopping online due to COVID-19.

A poll of American consumers by C+R Research reveals 59 percent of Americans now receive some sort of package at home every week. That is up 10 percent from the researcher’s 2019 survey on package theft.

Out of the 2,000 people surveyed, who all had shopped online at least once in the last 12 months, 43 percent say they’ve had a shipment taken by a porch pirate. Only 36 percent said the same in 2019 and just 31 percent did in 2018. Nearly two-thirds of America (64%) report having this happen more than once.

These aren’t petty acts of theft either, as the survey finds the average value of the items that never reach their destination comes in at around $136 per package. Thankfully, 81 percent of consumers receive a refund for their stolen property. Nearly half the poll (47%) still file a police report after the incident.

Fending off a wave of porch pirates

As package piracy continues to rise in the United States, online shoppers are trying to stay a step ahead of these crimes. One in every two respondents say they’ve purchased a doorbell camera to keep an eye on who comes snooping around their shipments. These devices allow homeowners to monitor their front door in real-time.

As homeowners try to defend their home turf, shipping companies are also trying to cut down on thefts too. Companies like Amazon Prime, FedEx, and UPS are using package lock boxes and requiring customer signatures on some orders to make shipping safer. Despite this, a third of Americans (32%) say the package delivery industry isn’t doing enough.

With the coronavirus forcing millions of people to stay close to home, 84 percent of consumers are ordering more items online during the pandemic. Since the health crisis started in March of 2020, 29 percent of Americans say they had a parcel stolen. Many report this was the first time they’ve been the victim of a porch pirate.

The holidays are even worse

As holiday shopping took on a new look in 2020, shipping companies had their work cut out for them with the skyrocketing online commerce. The poll finds 55 percent of shoppers planned to order more items than usual during the holidays.

Unfortunately, more packages means more opportunities for the bad guys. Of the respondents who say they’ve had a package stolen in the past, 55 percent report one of their holiday orders in 2019 was taken too. Nearly half of all consumers (48%) say they avoid buying expensive items online because they fear they’ll never make it into their hands.

Researchers find most Americans are “no-nonsense” when it comes to their holiday packages. To stop would-be porch pirates, 64 percent planned to stay home when they were expecting a holiday package in 2020. A quarter arranged for in-store pickup and 23 percent installed a new doorbell camera.

One in five shoppers said they’re so fed up with porch pirates, they returned to in-person shopping despite COVID-19. Another 19 percent requested a signature requirement on their deliveries.

“Regardless of the time of year, it’s important for consumers to take precautions and remain vigilant when ordering items online. Adding security features and staying home when deliveries arrive are some of the best ways you can prevent package theft this year and beyond,” researchers write in a statement.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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