Millions of Americans have had packages stolen from their front doors by “porch pirates” this year and one retired police officer told Fox News Digital the best solutions to ensure that your holiday gifts make it safely into your home.
Dennis Farris, who served as a police officer in Austin, Texas, for 25 years and serves now as president of the Austin Police Retired Officer’s Association, told Fox News Digital that the first way to deter porch pirates is the “Amazon Key” system, which allows an Amazon delivery person to drop a package inside the garage.
“It’s a one time code and it alerts you when the garage doors open and alerts you when the garage doors closed,” Farris said. “It only works one time and then the next time it would be a different code so it’s not like the guy that’s delivering your package could just come back.”
Amazon’s in-garage delivery process is available to Prime members and can be set up using the Amazon app.
Farris acknowledged that many people are “leery” of providing a stranger with access to their garage and suggested other ways to secure packages, including a lockbox on the front porch with a one-time access code that the customer can provide to the delivery service.
“Most people get packages that are relatively small so you can get a small lockable box that you could put on your front porch and put a combination lock on it and in the delivery instructions you can say there’s a lock box on the front porch and put down the combination,” Farris said. “That’s labor intensive but it’s something to keep your stuff secure. That’s one of the ways to do it.”
Farris also suggested that Americans who are concerned about porch pirates utilize Amazon lockers that the company provides at local establishments like 7-11.
“The only foolproof way to keep your packages from getting stolen is using a secondary location that you have to have a code to open the locker of,” Farris said. “That’s realistically the only way not to get your stuff stolen.”
Farris recommended that anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to use those options should at least consider a Ring doorbell camera or some kind of video surveillance on their front porches so they will at least “have an idea” of who did it if a package is stolen.
“The other thing is just don’t leave your packages,” Farris said. “Try to schedule your packages to be delivered if you can later in the afternoon when you’re going to be home or ask the delivery driver to hide the package somewhere on your porch.”
An estimated 260 million delivered packages have been stolen over the past year, according to a study from Safewise, compared to an estimated 210 million the previous year.
“It happens in Austin all the time,” Farris said about porch pirates. “You hear about it all the time, it’s become commonplace. People are almost becoming numb to it. It’s hard to catch these people. You need to catch them in the act. In this day and age with FedEx and UPS and Amazon you can track the packages on the app especially if they’re gonna be ordering stuff and track the package.”
The study ranked Austin as the city with the third-highest number of package thefts behind San Francisco, California, and Seattle, Washington.
“Heart sunk, fell into my stomach, and I was like, ‘oh man, someone took my package,’” Tacoma, Washington resident Andres Reyes told KCPQ-TV after being the victim of porch pirates last week in an incident caught on his Ring doorbell camera.
“It feels like I was violated.”
The top three cities where packages are stolen the least were Miami, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Raleigh, North Carolina.