PORCH Pirates are real and they are after your property! You don’t have to be a victim!

PORCH Pirates are real and they are after your property! You don’t have to be a victim!

Porch Pirates, Porch Maggots, or just opportunist thieves – whatever you want to call them, package thieves are prowling neighborhoods looking for packages to steal. This comes as no surprise as news reports abound showing package thieves caught on surveillance video stealing packages off of residential porches. Thieves might feel they stand a chance of getting better loot in affluent neighborhoods but it happens in middle-class neighborhoods and even in so-called lower-class neighborhoods. No neighborhood is immune from this thievery. Often these thieves come out of their holes during prime shipping holidays like Christmas but many operate all year long. These porch maggots are real and they are coming for your property! A recent survey revealed that more than 20 percent of online shoppers have experienced a package stolen from their porch with the average loss being well over $100.00.

The Modus Operandi of package thieves is often very similar and surprisingly quite basic. This is not a sophisticated criminal endeavor. These are common opportunist thieves and like all common thieves, they are lazy. If a “target” is difficult or to risky, they will move on to an easier “target.”

Often porch pirates work in tandem and it is not uncommon for one thief to be a woman. These crooks cruise around and look for delivery vehicles like UPS or FedEx trucks, and then follow and wait for the delivery person to place a package on the front porch. To their credit, some delivery companies like UPS, often make a special effort to place packages on a back porch to make it less obviously visible to thieves, but if the thieves are tailing the delivery truck, they can usually see this.

Usually the thieves make several “drive-bys” past the home to scope things out. If no one comes to the door to get the package the thieves usually park on the street near the house. Some of the more brazen thieves will even pull into the driveway just as if they belonged there. One thief stays behind the driver’s wheel to make a quick get-a-way if necessary while the other nonchalantly walks up to the porch. Sometimes the thief will ring the doorbell just to make sure no one is home. If someone answers they have a cover story about having the wrong address, looking for a lost dog, or some other half-way plausible excuse. But often the thief just casually picks up the packages and walks to the waiting get-a-way car . . . and off they go.

Where is porch piracy most prevalent? The answers are surprising

Blink, a seller of surveillance cameras owned by Amazon, conducted a survey and “The survey revealed that, on a per-capita basis, rural areas had a higher rate of packages stolen per the population, and the states with the highest rate of package theft were North Dakota (26.2 times more likely), Vermont (16.43 times more likely), Arkansas (8.28 times more likely) and New Mexico (5.8 times more likely). North Dakota residents have a higher likelihood of falling victim to package theft than Californians!”

Of course, sellers of surveillance cameras want you to buy one of their cameras to “deter” these thefts but research shows that while surveillance cameras that simply record what happens are great for helping catch thieves after they have already stolen your stuff, they do little to prevent these thefts. I first wrote about this in an article entitled: What Good Are Security Surveillance Cameras. Smart surveillance cameras that alert you when someone rings your doorbell or steps onto your porch and that allow you to remotely speak to the trespasser “GO AWAY, I’M CALLING THE POLICE!” can be effective.

Tips from security “experts” on preventing porch package theft are common and they are all good, but most are not widely practiced. They usually include:

Having packages delivered to friends, neighbors, or relatives who will be home during daytime delivery hours. Who wants to inconvenience others?

Having packages delivered to you at your work site. Not everyone has an employer who will allow this or a work place where this is feasible. A survey showed that 92% of all online purchases are shipped to a person’s home.

Having your packages delivered to Amazon Lockers or a private mail receiving store. An added inconvenience and maybe you didn’t order from Amazon. And there is a cost for a private mail receiving store.

Practical way to Secure Packages







Of all the prevention options available, one of the most practical, relatively inexpensive, and effective is a large lock-box on your front porch securely anchored to the porch.  A little sign can instruct the delivery driver to place your packages in the box and then close the lid. There are inexpensive automatic locks that will lock once the lock-box lid is shut.  If you are handy with a little research you can build one of these boxes and make it look quite attractive. For those who are all thumbs and don’t know the difference between a screwdriver and a hammer, these package delivery lock-boxes can be purchased online from various vendors.

There is no sure-fire way to prevent all porch package thefts but knowing the way these thieves operate and keeping a vigilant eye out in your neighborhood, coupled with having a secure place for the delivery person to leave your packages, is the best prevention.




George W. Babnick, is a 34 year law enforcement veteran with an extensive background in physical security, criminal and administrative investigations, training, school policing, supervision and management, and criminal forensics. He retired as a Captain in the Portland Oregon Police Bureau where he managed the Training, School Police, and Forensic Evidence Divisions. He holds criminal justice degrees from Portland Community College and Portland State University and a law degree from Northwestern California University School of Law, Sacramento California. Mr. Babnick is a longtime member of the Western Society of Criminology and is the author of articles on security and law enforcement, investigations, supervision and management, and risk management related to these subjects. As a physical security expert, George Babnick provides private physical security consultations across the United States and consults with clients outside the United States. He specializes in assessing security problems for small and medium businesses as well as select individuals. He offers independent, honest advice and expertise, with the goal of providing all clients with practical and cost-effective security solutions to enhance security and effectively manage business and personal security risks. Mr. Babnick is also a licensed Private Investigator and conducts investigations for attorneys, businesses, and individuals throughout the State of Oregon. To learn more about security consultation and investigative services offered, please visit http://babnickandassociates.com Disclaimer: Nothing in any article on this blog should be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice should seek the counsel of an attorney licensed in their state.