Home Insurance and Package Theft: 7 Tips To Keep Porch Pirates Away
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Around 260 million packages were stolen within the last 12 months according to a 2022 Safewise survey. While homeowners insurance can cover package theft, obtaining a replacement or refund through the retailer or shipper may be a better solution. Keep reading to learn how plus tips on how to stop porch pirates.
What Is a Porch Pirate?
Porch pirates are unscrupulous thieves who steal packages from other people’s doorsteps. Some porch pirates will simply walk up, pick up the package and walk away. Others may have a partner in crime — one grabs the package and the other drives the getaway car.
Is Porch Piracy a Crime?
Porch piracy is a crime in several states and the legal consequences largely depend on the stolen property’s value. In California, stealing property worth up to $1,000 is petty theft punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of up to six months. Stealing higher-value property may be classified as grand theft, which carries harsher penalties.
How Often Are Packages Stolen From Porches?
A 2022 Safewise survey showed that 75% of Americans have had a package stolen in their lifetime and 79% had a package stolen within the last 12 months.
San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and Los Angeles accounted for 40% of the top 10 worst metros for porch pirating. If you live in one of these cities, be extra vigilant about protecting your packages.
Which Packages Do Porch Pirates Target Most?
Porch pirates are more likely to target packages that are in plain view, with no visible cameras present and little illumination. In a later section, we’ll share precautions you can take to deter package thieves.
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Package Theft?
Theft is a covered peril in a standard homeowners insurance policy and this coverage can extend to your stolen packages. Packages stolen while inside your car may be covered, as well.
According to Safewise, 99% of packages stolen in 2022 were valued at $499 or lower. Consumers should note that premiums can increase after filing an insurance claim. If your package’s value slightly exceeds your deductible, you may be better off seeking reimbursement from the retailer or shipper — otherwise, you may pay more overall in higher insurance premiums.
What Should You Do if You’re a Victim of Porch Pirates?
Depending on the value of the package you may want to report the theft to the police. If you have footage showing the package theft, you should submit it to the officer. Your incident may be one in a series of package thefts and your documentation can help the authorities find the criminal.
Next, you should take steps to request a replacement or refund from the retailer. If the package was high-value and exceeds your deductible considerably, you may want to file a homeowners insurance claim.
How To File a Claim for Package Theft
If your order fell into the hands of package thieves, follow these steps to either find your package or arrange a replacement or refund.
Step 1: Track the Package
Start by confirming that your package was delivered. After placing your order, the retailer should have sent you a tracking number that you can input on the shipping carrier’s website. You may discover that your package was scheduled to arrive but was actually delayed.
If your tracking information confirms delivery, move on to step two.
Step 2: Look Around
Sometimes, your delivery person will leave your package in an inconspicuous location, such as in a bush, behind porch decor or even in your backyard. Small packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service may actually be waiting for you in your mailbox.
If your search is fruitless, look for a notice of attempted delivery. A notice will indicate the status of your package:
- Delivery will be re-attempted the following business day.
- Your package is available for pick-up at a specified address.
- Your package is being returned to the sender.
Keep in mind that your package may still be en route despite your tracking number confirming delivery. Amazon has even specified that, while rare, delivery may be noted 48 hours before arrival.
If you have a security camera, check your footage. You can at least verify if the package was delivered — and if a porch pirate did pilfer your package, you have proof you can submit to a police officer or in a reimbursement claim.
Step 3: Contact the Seller or Retailer
Contact the retailer if you can’t find your package. Depending on their policy, the retailer may send you a replacement or even issue you a full refund. However, this is not always guaranteed. After all, the retailer did their job getting the package to your doorstep — they have no control over what time you will be home so you can accept the package.
Step 4: File a Claim With the Shipping Company
If you’re unable to fulfill your order through the retailer, you can attempt to get reimbursed by the shipping company. You will need to file a claim online or contact their customer service line:
Start Claim Electronically
If your claim is approved, the shipping company will provide instructions for reimbursing you. UPS, for example, will require you to complete documentation that shows your bank information and order details. Alternatively, you may request a check via postal mail.
7 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe From Porch Pirates
Your packages were bought with your hard-earned money — don’t let porch pirates ruin the fruits of your labor. Use the tips below to protect your packages from theft.
1. Install a Security Camera
Security cameras serve two useful functions: First, they act as deterrents to package theft. Second, security cameras can document porch pirates stealing your package. This footage will be useful when reporting the crime to the police and filing a claim — whether it's with the retailer, shipping company or your home insurance provider.
2. Pay for Extra Shipping Protection
With most shipping companies, you can purchase extra protection to ensure your package gets to you safely. For example, USPS charges extra for package insurance or signature confirmation, which requires the delivery person to obtain a signature from the recipient before releasing the package.
3. Sign Up for Delivery Management
Some shipping companies, like FedEx and UPS, allow consumers to sign up for their delivery management program for free. With UPS My Choice, customers can specify where on their porch to deliver the package. They can even instruct the delivery person to have your package delivered to a neighbor.
Some services incur a charge, such as scheduling your package to arrive on a different day, confirming a delivery time window or even postponing your package’s delivery date.
4. Get a Porch Pirate Bag
A porch pirate bag is a secure and durable bag where delivery drivers can deposit your package. The bag hides your package and acts as a deterrent to porch pirates. Just remember to mention your porch pirate bag in your order’s delivery instructions.
5. Sign Up for Shipping Notifications
Most major shipping companies allow consumers to opt into mobile and email notifications on their delivery status. This will keep you updated on your package’s journey to your doorstep. Instructions for enabling notifications are usually found on the tracking number page.
6. Rally Your Neighbors
If somebody stole your package, then your neighbors will likely be just as vulnerable. Rally the neighbors and agree to keep an eye on porch pirates cruising through the neighborhood. Consider exchanging numbers with a trusted neighbor and ask them to pick up your package if you’re not home.
7. Ship to a Secure Location
If you live in a high-crime neighborhood, consider shipping your order to a safer location, like your workplace, a family member who lives in a gated community or a friend who works from home. Amazon customers may have the option to ship their orders to an Amazon Locker, which requires the recipient to input a code to retrieve their package.
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Homeowners insurance protects your property against theft and so much more. Let SmartFinancial help you find a home insurance policy that matches your coverage needs and budget. Just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to receive your free homeowners insurance quotes.