Package theft is a common crime that spikes during the holidays. Though the winter season is a celebratory time of compassion and generosity, many criminals freely capitalize on the kindness of others. They take advantage of vulnerable and unprotected individuals for their own financial gain.
Learning how to prevent package theft can ensure that gifts intended for a loved one don’t end up in the hands of a stranger. Many people believe that it won’t happen to them, that they live in a secure neighborhood where they’re safe from these threats. But package theft statistics show a different picture:
- More than 50 percent of people know someone who has experienced package theft.
- Thirty percent of people say they’ve experienced package theft themselves.
- More than a quarter (26 percent) of package theft occurred in the suburbs.
Those in the city were most at risk of package theft, comprising 42 percent of victims, making this a widespread issue regardless of location. In a gated community or an apartment complex, residents are always at risk of having their deliveries stolen. As the holiday season approaches, the problem intensifies.
Every year, millions of Americans have a holiday package stolen from their doorstep. With the increased popularity of online shopping and a higher rate of deliveries, this number is likely to grow unless residents take the proper precautionary measures.
Fortunately, several methods and products effectively prevent package theft. This article will review them in detail, describing what homeowners, renters and property managers can do to protect their packages. With the implementation of a few simple changes, package theft is a non-issue.
How Residents Can Secure Their Deliveries
Most people aren’t present in their home during all hours of the day, ready to receive a package the moment they hear their doorbell. They have jobs and social responsibilities that leave their property unoccupied, a prime target for opportunistic criminals. Homeowners can employ different solutions.
Some are inexpensive, and others cost nothing at all. Compared to the value of the package or packages lost, investment in security is relatively meager. Residents can determine for themselves which options are best for their property, depending on their budget and personal circumstances.
Through smart home technology, the integration of a neighborhood watch, drop-off instructions and a package lockbox, protection is possible.
1. Smart Home Technology
With advances in smart home technology, security systems are easy to install and far less expensive to purchase than they were in the past. Anyone with the tools can mount a camera on their porch to capture unwanted visitors on video. In a visible location, a security camera can act as a strong deterrent against hesitant thieves.
In addition to easy setup, most smart home security systems link to an app on the user’s smartphone. Whether they’re in the office or vacationing, as long as they have a secure WiFi connection, they’re able to view the delivery of their package and monitor its status. In the event of theft, this shortens response time.
With a high-resolution camera and cloud storage, residents can record the thief and use the footage to bring them to justice. The smart home security systems are regularly judged and ranked for their value so homeowners can determine the best technology for them. A security setup is a smart purchase.
2. Neighborhood Watch
As part of a larger community, a homeowner has the entire neighborhood at their disposal. Alone, they can only manage their own property, protecting their personal deliveries against thieves. But as a collective whole, they represent a network of people with a far greater chance of preventing criminal activity.
If a homeowner expects a package to arrive at a particular time of day, they can ask their neighbor to watch for it. That neighbor can collect the package and hold it until the homeowner returns. These small favors cost nothing at all, and more than that, they foster interdependence and a sense of community.
The integration of a neighborhood watch has the potential to ward off criminals. Strategic placement of signs stating that the area is under protection will let unwanted visitors know that residents are diligent. A 2013 study determined that using eyes on signage is a proven theft deterrent.
3. Drop-Off Instructions
Residents don’t have to worry over packages delivered to their homes. With foresight and planning, they can have their packages sent elsewhere and collect them in another place, reducing their anxiety. The change is as simple as including a new address in the profile section of their preferred online retailer.
Should the resident choose to accept the package at work, they should consult their supervisor beforehand. As long as they’re okay with using the mailroom for a personal delivery, it’s a convenient solution. That said, homeowners shouldn’t make a habit of sending all of their postage to their office or workplace.
A homeowner can also leave specific instructions during the online purchase process. Instead of the default option of doorstep delivery, they can ask that the delivery person place their package in a discrete location. A criminal is far less likely to find and steal a package if it’s around the side of the house.
4. Package Lockbox
Similar to a standard lockbox in functionality, a package lockbox is a larger model that allows for the secure delivery of packages. A homeowner can place one on their property and give their delivery service the code. This dramatically reduces the likelihood of theft, with criminals unable to access the packages.
Many of these residential package lockboxes are inexpensive, though certain brands can cost hundreds of dollars. They may look unsightly without the correct placement, and the device has other flaws. If a package is too large or cumbersome, it might not fit within the limited confines of the lockbox.
Residents will have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a package lockbox. Regardless, they should take precautions against thieves who would steal from their front porch. Any of the four methods listed above would prove effective, and a combination even more so.
Package Theft Prevention on a Large Scale
With the incredible frequency at which package theft occurs, organizations have devised methods to prevent theft on a larger scale. Corporations and law enforcement have approached the issue with ingenuity, finding new solutions that reduce criminal activity by a significant margin.
Regardless of magnitude, theft is a serious crime. Though package theft is non-confrontational and a resident rarely witnesses the offender, they’re still a victim with all of the connotations that term entails. It’s important to hold those who commit package theft accountable for the harm they cause communities.
When tasked with this responsibility, enterprising individuals developed real-time tracking software, courier services, enforcement strategies and package lockers.
Most shipping companies offer package tracking today. Residents can go about their days safe in the knowledge that their package won’t arrive until a certain day. These tracking services also notify users when their package has been delivered. If residents have received such a notification but their packages are nowhere in sight, they can start a replacement process right away instead of waiting around and wondering when their packages will arrive.
New technology is improving these tracking systems. Amazon released a feature that allows its customers to follow the progress of their packages in real time. The function, called Amazon Map Tracker, shows the delivery in transit, displaying the number of stops a driver will make before reaching the user’s home. This eliminates the guesswork involved in timing. Homeowners can schedule their day around drop-off to prevent the possibility of package theft. This improved transparency reduces risk.
Real-time tracking is currently only available from Amazon, but as other companies take greater accountability for their deliveries, their customers can expect more consistent service and fewer mistakes.
2. Amazon Key Home Kit
Amazon is also tackling the problem of package theft through the use of three technologies working in tandem. With the Amazon Key, the Cloud Cam and a compatible smart lock, a resident can safely receive packages when they’re not on the premises.
The service allows a courier to enter the customer’s home and deliver the package safely within the residence. After scanning a barcode and gaining access, the camera records the delivery person as they complete their task. When they’ve finished, they leave the home, shut the door and lock it behind them.
Afterward, the resident can watch a video of the courier to ensure they didn’t act unprofessionally. If they did, Amazon will take action. Though the service requires considerable trust, it eliminates the possibility of package theft for the user, as though the resident were there to sign for the delivery themselves.
3. Baited Packages
Police have employed GPS technology to counter the problem of package theft. The concept is simple, and because of it’s simplicity, effective. Officers place dummy packages with tracking software on a resident’s doorstep, then wait for a criminal to steal the fake merchandise, pursuing them shortly afterward.
In several cities across the country, this method has worked. The Arcadia police force in Southern California claims that over 100 suspected thieves have already fallen for the lure. With wider adoption of these preventative policies, police departments can handle the issue and reduce the overall rate of package theft.
As of now, the strategy is still relatively new. Some citizens have raised concerns over entrapment and the necessity of a warrant. But many homeowners support programs in their community that protect against package theft, and coordination with the police is essential in capturing guilty individuals.
4. Package Lockers
With the 2017 holiday season reaching a record-breaking $108 billion from online shopping, the sheer number of deliveries this year will prove challenging to manage. There’s a simple solution, however, similar to package lockboxes. Landlords who need to organize and protect their tenants’ packages can use a package locker on their property.
Remember, city residents comprised 42 percent of package theft victims. The installation and use of package lockers counters for this problem, allowing a delivery person to place the package in a protected box. When a resident returns, they find that their package is waiting for them, undisturbed.
Outside of residential buildings, package lockers are common elsewhere. Other online retailers and shipping companies have lockers or hold locations inside common brick-and-mortar locations such as grocery stores and convenience stores. Some have argued the convenience of their decisions.
What Are Package Lockers?
In some buildings, landlords and property managers have to accept and sign for their tenants’ packages throughout the day. They have to find time in their routine to then contact those tenants about their packages, which can prove irritating. These small pauses gradually build up to a significant loss in productivity.
Property managers no longer have to worry over their tenants’ many deliveries. Package lockers replace them as the middleman between a delivery person and a tenant, keeping packages secure from criminals in the interim. Managers can return their focus to their other duties, like maintenance and repair work.
Ownership of a rental property requires the landlord’s full commitment and an unwavering dedication to their tenants.A failure to adequately protect their renters’ belongings can result in poor retention and increased vacancies. It hurts the reputation of the landlord or property manager when they fail to protect their tenants.
In both residential and commercial buildings, package lockers serve an essential purpose. They even have a place in universities. Anywhere a resident or worker might sign for a package, and that package is at risk of potential theft, a sturdy package locker will effectively guard against malicious individuals.
With the United States parcel market set to double by 2025, landlords and property managers will find that their package locker is an indispensable asset. The days of signing for a tenant’s delivery are gone, replaced with a far more convenient and attractive alternative that requires far less time and attention.
Preparing for the Holiday Season
With the pressure of expectations and commitments, the holiday season can feel demanding. Meeting family and friends and making preparations is exhausting and stressful. Package theft only adds to that heavy load, and no one should have to deal with the anxiety of a last-minute purchase to replace stolen goods.
Residents have options with how they handle package theft prevention, and the tips in this article will protect their deliveries against criminals. On a smaller scale, they have new technologies and a number of techniques to guard their packages. And on a larger scale, corporations and law enforcement are on their side.
Whether the solution comes in the form of a smart home system or an advanced package locker, residents should feel safe. As long as they adopt a proactive approach, they can rest assured that their gifts for the holiday season will arrive in a timely fashion without unnecessary worry over theft.
For landlords who depend on the satisfaction of their tenants, a full-service real estate company can provide suggestions and actionable advice in property management. 33 Realty is the premier option for those in Chicago who need assistance maintaining their current investments and planning future endeavors.
Whether you intend to rent in the region or you’re hoping to secure your residential property with a package locker, contact the professionals at 33 Realty to prepare for the holiday season. Give us a call at 773-327-4975 for more information on how our team can help you.