Consumers are shopping more and more online rather than dealing with long lines as well as the hustle and bustle of stores and malls. People now buy everything from groceries and mattresses to furniture on the Internet. Unfortunately, criminals have seized on this fact and have made careers out of stealing packages and reselling them on websites like ebay.
According to a 2022 Safewise Survey, 75% of Americans have had a package stolen in their lifetime and within the last 12 months. That makes for 260 million packages that have been stolen within 365 days. The problem of stolen packages is so widespread that the Internet has created a nickname for the thieves, “Porch Pirates.”
Stealing is, of course, illegal in all states, but the severity of the crime rests on the value of the stolen package. In California, for example, if the package is worth up to $1,000, the crime is considered petty theft and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of up to six months. Stealing an expensive package can qualify as grand theft, which carries much harsher penalties. The problem is catching porch pirates, who are often masked in security footage and steal packages in broad daylight.
Here’s what you need to know about getting your money back if your package is stolen this holiday season and how to prevent porch piracy.
Porch piracy is highest in urban areas. In fact, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and Los Angeles were targeted in 40% of theft in the state. Porch pirates target poorly lit porches with no security cameras most of the time. Here’s more:
|States with highest package theft rates||States with lowest package theft rates|
|Rhode Island||25%||South Carolina||14%|
|West Virginia||25%||South Dakota||14%|
|Package Theft’s Impact|
*Data sourced from Security.org
As you may already know, getting a refund for a delivered package that ended up getting stolen is very difficult, so it’s comforting to know that most homeowners insurance policies cover theft. However, you should always try to get a refund first. Filing a home insurance claim will raise your rate. Ask yourself if it’s worth it to get a premium hike for a missing $40 package. If the stolen item cost more than your deductible and the seller won’t reimburse you, then it makes sense to consider filing a claim.
You can earn a homeowners insurance discount if you have SimpliSafe, Nest or Ring or a similar product. Security devices like these have become quite popular lately, and most fulfill insurers’ requirements for a home safety discount. Ask your agent about the type of security camera you have or plan to buy, and they will let you know if the discount applies.
You can save up to 20% on your home insurance policy with a safe home discount. Typically, however, you are looking at a 2% to 15% discount, depending on the type of system you have. The more sophisticated, the higher the discount.
It’s up to you to first decide how much security you want and whether or not you want your home monitored at all times. You’ll get a bigger homeowners insurance discount if you go with a home monitoring security system like SimpliSafe or Vivint. You can also buy your own products, like Nest and Ring, to create your own security suite and include motion sensor lights as well as a security camera and doorbell. If you decide to buy your products, go directly to the manufacturer’s website or buy your cameras and sensors from these retailers:
Even if the package that was stolen was not valuable, it may help police catch a thief who’s been targeting your neighborhood. File a complaint and share footage from security cameras, if you have them. But first, make sure it was delivered. Here are the steps you should take:
- Track the package.
- Make sure the package is not in the vicinity or mailroom.
- Contact the police if it was delivered.
- Contact the seller for reimbursement.
- File a claim with the shipping company.
- Talk with your credit card company (never use a debit card for online purchases).
- If all else fails, and the package is more valuable than your deductible, file a home insurance claim.
- Ask for a signature upon delivery from the shipping company. It will cost a small fee that’s well worth it.
- Sign up for delivery management services at UPS My Choice.
- Get a porch pirate bag that hides your package and acts as a deterrent to theft.
- Talk with neighbors and see if you can band together and solve the problem.
- Ask a trusted neighbor for help with package pickups when you’re not home.
- Ship to a nearby location, maybe one designated as a pickup location. Amazon also offers Amazon lockers for people who want to avoid deliveries.
Not always. Sometimes, porch pirates come in a pair or more, with one driving the getaway car and possibly others raiding the other neighbors.
You can expect to see a 9% to 20% increase after filing a successful home insurance claim.
Filing a homeowners insurance claim should be a last resort with package theft, but it’s good to know you can get your money back if the package was pricey. There are also other reasons to have a solid home insurance policy, like burglary, vandalism, a fire, a severe storm that damages your home and a myriad of other perils. Make sure to compare home insurance rates before you buy a policy so you get the best coverage at the lowest rate.
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