July 21st, 2024

Porch piracy increases over the holiday season

By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 9, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber A person drops gifts off on a city doorstep. Porch piracy is a growing concern as Christmas season approaches and delivery services, or even friends, drop off parcels which are easy pickings for criminals.

During the Christmas season there is an increase of packages and orders coming in as people start to gather gifts for family and friends.

However along with that comes an increase in packages being stolen from people’s porches.

These people who steal deliveries from homes have a special nick name, according to Kristen Saturday, strategic communications manager of the Lethbridge Police Service.

They’re called “porch pirates.”

“Porch piracy happens all year round but with the increase in package deliveries around the holiday season, it’s especially important for people to take steps to help reduce the risk of victimization. Retrieving your package as soon as it’s delivered is the best way to thwart thieves, but if that isn’t possible, we recommend that you have alternative plans in place,” said Saturley.

Local resident Alicia Davis recently fell victim to someone stealing a package within her apartment complex.

“I had ordered myself a brand-new pair of ear buds. They were a pretty purple. And I never had earbuds before. I ordered them off Amazon. The driver showed up (and)” and spoke through the intercom.

“I wasn’t home. I think I was getting groceries. And I said, ‘just drop it off at the door. I’ll be home shortly.’ And it was about an hour-and-a-half later, I got home. And the package was gone,” said Davis.

Davis said she checked in with her neighbours to see if they had put it aside for safe keeping for her, but they had not.

“It was like, ‘oh, no, it’s been stolen.’ It wasn’t just taken in for safekeeping.”

The value Davis’ loss was $50. Since this experience she said she has taken measures to ensure the safety of future deliveries.

“I actually have a security camera outside my door now that can see my entire door. So, if a package was left there, I get a notification immediately. And then I can keep my eye on it,” said Davis.

Saturley listed helpful tips the police recommend to keeping your packages safe from any porch pirates.

“Video doorbells are also helpful. Many come with motion sensors and notification systems that send alerts to your phone when someone is at your door and allows for two-way communication.

“If it’s a delivery person you can provide them with instructions on where to leave the package, so it is concealed. Report any suspicious activity in your neighbourhood to police immediately,” noted Saturley.

Davis also has suggestions.

“Let your neighbours know if you have a package coming. Or you can get what’s called a flex delivery and have it delivered to your local Shoppers or the mall and have it left there to pick up,” said Davis.

Saturley suggests requiring a signature upon delivery which will ensure the package cannot be left out while no one is home, having a package delivered to a workplace or family member if allowed, keeping track of package delivery and having a trusted neighbour keep it safe if you’re not home.

Davis shared the importance of keeping track when your package will be delivered.

“It’s hit and miss really. You’ve got to be aware of where you are and when your packages are going to be delivered to try and be home.”

Saturley added more ways to ensure your package can be delivered safe without being taken.

“If ordering from Amazon, select pick-up from a locker location. When your package arrives at the locker, you’ll receive a delivery confirmation email with instructions on how to retrieve it. If you have home security system, make it obvious to help deter would-be thieves, display a sign from your provider, have cameras set up visible locations,” said Saturley.

Davis said she was frustrated when she realized her package had been taken.

“I was pretty frustrated. And we ended up getting a camera outside the door, because we didn’t feel safe enough to leave our packages anymore without some form of security,” said Davis.

Davis emphasized nobody wants to experience packages being taken this holiday season. “Nobody wants their packages stolen, especially this time of the year.”

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