More than half of Americans know someone who has had an online delivery swiped from their doorstep; 1 in 3 has themselves been a victim of parcel theft. To help you decide the best way to protect your online deliveries from opportunistic thieves, we’ve laid out the pros and cons of various package theft prevention methods. These methods are sorted into three categories:
- Home delivery options
- Alternatives to home delivery
- Anti-parcel theft devices
Home Delivery Options to Prevent Package Theft
Package theft has been a PR nightmare for parcel couriers and e-commerce brands alike. In response, these companies introduced various delivery options that can reduce or eliminate the chance of having a parcel stolen.
1. Delivery Alerts
In addition to tracking numbers, many courier companies now offer text or email alerts signalling that your package has arrived at your doorstep. These include:
- If you’ve ever missed a delivery because you didn’t hear the courier knock or ring the doorbell, delivery alerts are an easy solution.
- Many shipping companies offer this option for free.
- Depending on the company, delivery alerts may not be instantaneous.
- Delivery alerts are only useful if someone is there to bring the parcel inside; otherwise, it does nothing to protect it.
2. Amazon Key and Amazon In-Car Delivery
- The Amazon Key is a smart lock system that allows Amazon couriers to enter through your house and drop off your package inside. The kit also includes a Wi-Fi-enabled surveillance camera to go on your doorstep or inside your home.
- Amazon In-Car Delivery system lets Amazon couriers open the trunk of your car and place your package there. It’s built into most Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac and Volvo vehicles built after 2015.
- Both methods ensure a parcel is safely stored behind a locked door until you’re ready to collect it.
- In the case of In-Car delivery, it’s free if you already own a qualifying vehicle.
- There have been major security concerns with Amazon Key.
- Amazon Key and In-Car Delivery are only available in select American cities.
- These options are only available for Amazon deliveries, not all online deliveries.
3. Signature on Delivery
The old-school way of preventing package theft. Retailers have long required a signature on delivery for orders that exceed a certain dollar value, since it guarantees the parcel will land in the hands of the intended recipient. Many couriers will allow recipients to request it as well.
- Signing on delivery ensures that you’ll be there to pick up your parcel when it arrives. No signature, no parcel on your doorstep.
- If you aren’t home when the courier arrives, chances are you’ll have to visit the courier’s storefront or distribution centre in person. This can be a big inconvenience for frequent online shoppers, since many distribution centres are located on the outskirts of town.
4. Special Delivery Instructions
Another option is to instruct the courier to leave the parcel in a specific place; usually, somewhere inconspicuous. Some ingenious homeowners, like this Redditor, have even built special hiding places for parcels on their doorstep.
- Simple and cheap, especially if you have a covered porch.
- Not an option for everyone, including renters who cannot make changes to their home’s exterior.
- Police have reported that some thieves follow courier vans with the specific intention of stealing parcels. These determined criminals won’t be fooled by a clever hiding place.
Alternatives to Home Delivery
One sure way to protect your online deliveries from theft is have them delivered to a more secure location. There are several alternatives to home delivery that will protect your parcels, but they’re not always free.
5. Have the Parcel Delivered to Work
If you work in an office (and your boss allows it), consider having your parcels sent there instead of to your house. This is an increasingly popular way to protect online deliveries from thieves.
- Guarantees your parcel won’t be left outside.
- Doesn’t cost extra.
- If you use public transit, you’ll have to lug your parcels all the way home with you.
- Not all employers appreciate workers receiving private mail at work.
6. Have the Parcel Delivered to a Friend’s House
Friends and family members who work opposite hours (or are retired) can receive parcels on your behalf.
- It’s free (and gives you a reason to meet up with your buddy!)
- This method is not foolproof. If your friend doesn’t hear the courier arrive, a fast-acting thief could swipe your parcel (which is why this is best combined with delivery alerts).
- Your friends and neighbours may not appreciate you imposing the responsibility of waiting for parcels and dealing with delivery drivers.
7. Hire Someone to Receive Your Online Deliveries
Several companies now offer to connect you with people who can receive and keep parcels secure until you’re ready to pick them up. The big names include:
- It works just like sending parcels to a friend: your parcel is safe so long as the person is there to collect it.
- The service may offer compensation if your parcel is lost.
- Each of these services requires a fee.
- These services aren’t an option for expensive shipments that require identical shipping and billing addresses.
- There’s no guarantee these services will be around forever.
Parcel Theft Prevention Devices
Wherever there’s a problem, there’s a product to solve it. However, not all parcel theft prevention devices on the market are equally effective.
8. Surveillance Cameras
Doorstep surveillance cameras are a fast-growing category of smart home security devices. Some function as doorbells (like the Ring), while others are disguised as porch lights (the Kuna) or mounted to the wall or ceiling. Many such devices are able to send notifications to your mobile phone when they detects motion.
- If you can arrange to have someone at home collect your parcel, a smart doorstep camera can help close the time gap between delivery and pick-up.
- Doorstep cameras are useful for general security and surveillance in addition to protecting your online deliveries.
- The multitude of parcel theft videos posted online every day prove that smart cameras aren’t an effective deterrent.
- Doorstep cameras are next to useless during a power outage.
9. Alarm Systems
Some companies have approached the problem of parcel theft with specially-built alarm systems, like the Package Guard, designed to detect when a parcel arrives and sound the alarm if an unauthorized person takes it.
- In a busy, active neighborhood, an alarm system could be enough to deter parcel thieves.
- Like doorstep cameras, these alarm systems can notify you of a parcel’s arrival, so you can arrange to have a friend collect it before a thief does.
- Alarms don’t actually prevent parcel theft – they only deter it. Bolder thieves won’t be afraid of an alarm.
10. Parcel Guard
The Danby Parcel Guard is a secure, tamper-proof mailbox that combines the features a doorstep camera, parcel alarm, and locked safe in one smart device. Rather than leave parcels sitting on a porch, couriers can place items right into the Parcel Guard, where they’ll be safe until you unlock it using the app.
- Once the door to the device is closed, there’s absolutely no way to get at the parcel inside unless you’re the intended recipient.
- Like smart cameras and alarms, the Parcel Guard can send notifications to your mobile device to let you know a parcel has arrived.
95% of standard small and medium parcel boxes Guard (up to the size of a case of wine) fit inside the first-generation Parcel Guard. But extra-large items, like TVs, won’t fit inside.