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Ooma Blog

How to Avoid Package Theft at Your Front Door

By Dennis Peng|Thursday December 6, 2018

You’ve seen it on the news; you’ve seen it on social media; and you’ve heard about it from your neighbors. Package theft is a serious problem!

About 26 million Americans have had a package stolen from their front door during the holidays. That’s about 21 percent of all households in the United States.

During the holiday season, about $108.2 billion is expected to be spent on online purchases. Unfortunately, this presents a ripe opportunity for thieves to cash in. Are you ready to face a game of chance to see if you’ll receive the item you purchased online?

avoiding package theft Ooma Butterfleye

The Problem of Package Theft

Burgeoning analysis of package theft shows this type of crime is more common in tech hubs and wealthy cities. In other words, thieves are seeking out high-value targets. Sometimes, thieves will even follow delivery trucks on their route so they can easily identify the deliveries where the recipient wasn’t home.

To counter the threat of package thieves, some local police stations have started leaving bait packages that are rigged with a GPS tracker. Delivery drivers have also gotten creative with where they leave packages, hiding them in bushes, in porch eaves, and in other unlikely locations.

Shoppers have also started to get creative by having deliveries sent to their workplace. One online shopper in Chicago noted that this tactic can make for a strange commute. She said, “Sometimes, I’m just sitting on the Red Line with a wig in my hand, or potting soil in my backpack, thinking, this is so weird. I thought Amazon was supposed to make my life easier?” she said.

Despite the attempts to curb package thieves, one easy to implement solution can have the best results for protecting delivered packages: video security.

How Video Security Protects You Against Package Thieves

Without video security, you could be left with a mysterious gap between receiving the email that your package was delivered and arriving home to find no package at your front door. The void between those two events could lead to lengthy calls with customer service or insurance claims for lost items of high value. At minimum, you face delays, and you could be left without a gift during your holiday exchange. (So much for two-day shipping!)

On the other hand, adding video security to your front door can remove the mystery of what happened to your package. Not only would you see your item being stolen, but you may also get an image of the thief’s face or of his or her license plate.

With the footage from your security camera, you’d have evidence to provide to the police, a video clip to share on social media, and screenshots to pass out to your neighbors. Not only can this documentation be valuable when trying to catch the thief, but it can also help your neighbors be on the lookout if the “porch pirate” returns.

Better Protection with Internet-enabled Smart Security Cameras

Legacy video security systems provide you with critical visual documentation. However, they fail to provide the speed that can be crucial in protecting your home, your belongings, and your deliveries.

Smart security cameras, such as the Ooma home security camera, provide users with instant access to activity alerts. After receiving an alert on your mobile device, you can click through to the Ooma Butterfleye app for immediate access to the footage of the detected activity. Additionally, the Ooma Butterfleye provides an instant video capture feature that starts the clip five seconds before the event, so you’ll catch as much action as possible when identifying the thief.

With seven days of free video storage in the cloud, your Ooma Butterfleye smart security camera provides you with tools to view a package thief immediately, and then download or share the clip. Being able to take appropriate measures quickly can increase your chances of recovering your stolen items. In addition, the Ooma Butterfleye has backup systems to keep you covered during both internet and power outages.

Ooma Home with Butterfleye security

The Ooma Butterfleye is available as a part of the Ooma wireless home security system which provides multi-point home protection including an Ooma Telo, two door/window sensors, one motion sensor, one Ooma Butterfleye camera, and the ability to add unlimited additional security sensors including water sensors, a garage door sensor, or siren.

Advanced Security from Ooma Butterfleye

The Ooma Home security system with the Ooma Butterfleye smart security camera go beyond instant alerts. It provides you with advanced technology so you can be on the cutting edge of home security.

Subscribers to the Ooma Butterfleye Home Secure plan unlock innovative facial recognition technology, which you can use to algorithmically reinforce your security. When using the AI-powered facial recognition security feature, the Ooma Butterfleye is able to recognize familiar faces and group activity based on facial profiles.

With facial recognition, your security notifications can improve from saying, “Activity was detected” to saying, “John was seen.” If it doesn’t recognize the person, Ooma Butterfleye will say “Unknown person was detected.” The longer you use the camera, the stronger the facial profiles will become.

Ooma video security facial recognition

There’s a two-fold benefit to this powerful technology.

First, you can customize your notifications to only be alerted to unknown faces. This can save you from unnecessary notifications about your friends, family, or neighbors. By focusing your notifications on unknown faces, you’ll avoid the notification fatigue that can happen from unnecessary false alarms.

Second, if you have your Ooma Butterfleye positioned to capture passers-by on the street or sidewalk, you could start to build a rich data set about what happens in front of your house. With the facial recognition technology, it’s possible that the Ooma Butterfleye could identify your package thief and associate the person with other instances where he or she passed next to your security camera. As authorities investigate, this could provide valuable intelligence on associating your stolen package with other nearby thefts on associated days.

Learn more about how the Ooma home security system and Ooma Butterfleye can provide you with multi-point home security.

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Choosing small business accounting software isn’t as much fun as making sales. Yet it is vital if you want to stay organized, minimize your taxes, and pay your bills accurately. When you use accounting software, you will be able to complete your payroll taxes much more quickly. You will also suffer far fewer cash flow surprises. Now, what critical features should you look for?

What should you look for in bookkeeping software?

Accounting tools can drown you in features, reports and data if you’re not careful. You don’t need a Fortune 500 style accounting system. Instead, look for a tool that helps you to manage and report on the following critical business activities.
  • Balance sheets. The ability to create these reports (e.g. assets and liabilities) is essential when you deal with banks, manage debt, and if you plan to sell your business someday. For example, it should be easy to report on current liabilities vs. long-term liabilities. This will tell you when and how to use your credit cards, cash and other resources for the best effect.
  • Cash flow management. The best accounting tools can automatically generate cash flow reports. These reports help you to decide how much of a cash reserve to hold and when you can afford new investments. Sometimes, cash is not enough, so plan by learning how to manage business credit now. The free perks you get with business credit cards (e.g. cashback on your card) are well worth the effort.
  • Creating invoices and sending invoices. You need to get paid! Many small business accounting tools let you send invoices directly from the package. Ideally, look for a solution that enables you to accept credit cards for payment as well.
  • Expense management. You can make millions in revenue, but what about profits? To obtain a clear picture of profitability, you need expense management functions. It is helpful to review reports on fixed costs (e.g. rent), variable costs (e.g. hourly employees), and other types of expenses. Using Ooma’s small business phone system makes expense management more manageable because you have a straightforward bill to manage each month.
  • Free trial. You are going to use your accounting tool on a weekly and monthly basis for years into the future. It is crucial that you like it and find it easy to use. Therefore, look for an accounting tool that gives you a free trial. If the company doesn’t advertise a free trial, contact the vendor and request a free trial.
  • Inventory management. Strictly speaking, this capability is only important if your business sells goods. For example, if you run a retail store, then you need to keep track of your inventory, cost and profits on each item sold.
  • Payroll taxes. Managing payroll taxes can get complicated because you need to consider requirements from federal and state governments. If you have multiple locations in different jurisdictions, payroll taxes may become more complex.
  • Sales tax management. Track and record sales tax on each sale so that you pay only the correct amounts.
  • Time tracking. If you offer services, time tracking is essential. For example, you might have a junior staff member with a $50 per hour billable rate and a $70,000 per year salary. To measure performance, you need a time-tracking capability. If you have a large team, you do not want to be the bottleneck for entering data into the system. Check to see if the accounting tool makes it easy for multiple people to complete their time tracking activities each month.
Tip: Meeting tax requirements requires specialized expertise. Therefore, consult your accountant to see if they have suggestions on critical features or accounting tools. They will also need the ability to download reports.

Business accounting tools for small business owners: Four starting options

To grow your business, you need to track your money. For example, can you afford to pay yourself a bonus or dividend this quarter? Reviewing your bank accounts only tells you your cash balance. Reviewing accounting reports will help you forecast expenses and make better-informed decisions. Here are four accounting tools you can consider to get started. In our research, we selected these four accounting tools because they have received a large number of positive reviews on Capterra, a business software website. FreshBooks (offers a free trial) Capterra reviews: 3200+ reviews, 4.5 stars out of 5 Built for small business owners, FreshBooks supports several important accounting features. You can create and send invoices directly through the system and accept credit card payments. FreshBooks also supports time tracking. The package also includes the option to explore reports to Excel for additional analysis. QuickBooks online (offers a free trial) Capterra reviews: 16000+ reviews, 4.5 stars out of 5 QuickBooks Online provides several different options depending on your needs. With the Simple Start plan, you are limited to one user, and you can perform basic tasks like managing receipts. With the higher-priced plans, you get additional features like adding other users (e.g. yourself, your bookkeeper, and accountant). Note that many small business accountants and bookkeepers are trained in QuickBooks. Sage 50cloud (free trial available) Capterra reviews: 200+ reviews, 3.7 stars out of 5 Do you rely on Microsoft Office? If so, take a close look at Sage 50cloud. This accounting tool includes integration with Outlook and Office applications. That’s valuable because you can look up a customer’s accounting status at a glance. In addition, Sage provides expense management features so you can track your expenses and forecast cash flow accurately. Once you have it set up, make sure you use the “1-click reports” to get a current picture of your sales, taxes and profitability. Zoho Books (free trial available) Capterra reviews: 400+ reviews, 4.4 stars out of 5 In contrast to Sage, Zoho Books is designed to integrate with more than 40 Zoho business apps. If you already use Zoho products like CRM Plus, Mail and Docs, Zoho Books is worth a close look. In terms of accounting features, you get time tracking, inventory management, and standard reports (e.g. cash flow and balance sheet). Zoho Books is also appealing because they offer several pricing tiers so you can get started with a small budget. Small business accounting software: make the most of your free trial Most accounting tools for small businesses offer features like cash flow and balance sheet reports. You will also find the ability to create and send invoices are widely available. So how do you choose which product is right for you? Start by asking for a recommendation from your accountant or bookkeeper. Second, check for technical compatibility (e.g. does the tool integrate with your credit cards, bank accounts and office software)? Based on these first two questions, you will probably narrow down the list to two or three options. The final step in choosing bookkeeping software is to get your hands dirty! Sign up for at least two free trial accounts. During those free trials, put some data in and see how the system performs. Do you like the built-in expense management features? Are you getting helpful insights to grow your business? Based on these assessments, choose the bookkeeping software that is easiest to use.