Ooma Home Security Knowledge Hub

Protecting your front porch from package theft.

By Husain Sumra|Friday June 28, 2019

Online shopping is a great modern convenience, but it comes with a dark side: Package theft. It’s a growing concern for many, with USA Today reporting that a third of Americans have experienced package theft.

The worst part is that once your package is delivered, neither the company that you purchased the product from or the shipping company is liable for that stolen package. That means you have to go buy your stolen good all over again, costing you both money and stress.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to combat package theft and make sure you get your package. Here are the best ways to make sure you get your deliveries.

Get a neighbor to help.

The first and easiest way to prevent package theft is to recruit your neighbors. It’s likely that they also shop online and are worried about package theft. You could form some a partnership where you look out for each other’s packages.

At the very least, you could ask them to make sure no one is snooping around your front porch. In fact, it’s also worth joining your local neighborhood watch. Package theft is a growing problem, and it’s likely neighborhood watches across the country are taking steps to combat them. Find out what your local neighborhood watch is doing and join in.

Sign up for Amazon Key.

One of the primary reasons for the rise of package theft is the rise of Amazon. The e-commerce giant has since introduced a number of ways to help you protect your packages, with the most advanced being Amazon Key. This is an expensive service though, and requires you to buy Amazon’s proprietary camera and a compatible smart lock.

This isn’t possible for everyone, especially renters, but it is a high-tech solution. It works like this: Your deliver person will knock on your door. If no one answers the delivery person will request a one-time-use digital key to enter your home via a smart lock. They will then place your package just inside your home, next to the door, and leave.

A smart camera will activate and watch them until they leave, and the key will expire, which means they won’t be able to enter again. The caveats here are the price and whether you trust Amazon and its delivery people to enter your home while you’re not there. Amazon Key also extends to your car, with a delivery person able to open your trunk and place your package there while you’re at work.

Take advantage of Delivery Instructions.

When you’re ordering anything online, there’s usually an empty text box either called “Delivery Instructions” or “Special Delivery Instructions”. It can be easy to ignore these, but they can be valuable if you’re concerned about package theft. Here, you can tell your delivery person where to put the package. If you have a special area under your porch, or if you want it at the side entrance of your home, you can put that information here.

Use third party services.

There are a number of third party services that have sprung up to help limit package theft. One of the most popular is Doorman. This service gives you a special shipping address that you ship all your goods too. This location will house your deliveries, and you can then forward them wherever you want when you’re ready – you’re even able to choose when you want the delivery. You can schedule your Doorman deliveries down to the hour, and they ship 7 days a week.

Another solution is TaskRabbit. You can simply set up a task and pay someone to pick up your package from your home and deliver it to wherever you want, like your workplace. This is most helpful if you forget to arrange for a delivery beforehand, however.

Also, both services require you to pay on top of whatever delivery charge you paid the online retailer. There’s also BoxLock. It’s a smart lock with a built-in barcode scanner. You attach it to an outdoor crate near your front yard.

When your delivery person comes to your home, they use the built-in scanner to scan their package. This unlocks the crate so they can place the package inside. It locks back up and only you can access it.

Try Amazon Lockers or in-store pickup.

One great option for any retailer is having your package delivered to a business location. Most retailers, like Best Buy, Target and Walmart, offer in-store pickup. This will ship your package to your local retailer for easy pickup whenever you have time. Amazon doesn’t have the retail presence its competitors has, but it does have Amazon Lockers.

These lockers are placed in convenience stores and shopping malls around the country, and they’ll house your packages. Amazon will send you a special code that’ll open your locker when your package is delivered, so when you’re ready you can go and pick it up.

Deliver it somewhere else.

One of the simplest ways for you to avoid front porch package theft is to not let your package reach your front porch. That’s right, you can use an alternate address and send it somewhere else. You can send it to a neighbor, a friend, a family member or even your work, if you work allows it.

It’s an easy and affordable solution that won’t have you traveling to a store or going out of your way. Of course, this is only possible if you have the friends, family members or an employer who can actually receive your package. If you don’t, you’re out of luck here.

Register for UPS MyChoice and FedEx Delivery Manager.

What about the people who actually deliver your package? Isn’t there anything they can do? It turns out there is! FedEx and UPS both offer memberships that give you more control over where and how your package is delivered. FedEx has Delivery Manager while UPS has MyChoice.

Both services come in free and paid versions. The free versions will send you delivery notifications and hold your package for pickup.

Each also has it’s own unique features. MyChoice, for example, will let you leave your package with a neighbor or route your delivery to a nearby Walgreens. Paid versions of both services add things like changing delivery to another day or schedule a specific delivery time. However, these paid services can be costly. FedEx’s premium service starts at $5.55 per delivery while UPS’ starts at $8 per delivery.

Read: Wired Vs. Wireless Security Cameras

Get a smart camera.

Say you don’t want to go through the hassle of shipping your products somewhere else. You just want them ready at your porch when you come home. And you definitely don’t want to have your neighbor looking after things for you either.

The best solution here is a smart camera. A smart camera can be placed on your porch and trained to watch whoever approaches. You’ll see as your delivery person lays the package down, and whether anyone comes to try to take it.

If they do, you’ll have video footage of their faces you can give to the police. Ooma’s Smart Camera has all the features of a great camera capable of preventing package theft. It’s got Face Tag, so you can set up your camera to tell you when your delivery person has arrived. It can also activate when it senses motion, telling you when someone approaches your home. Plus, it’s weather resistant and can give you a live look at your porch via the Ooma smart camera app.

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