Preventing porch piracy: Local law enforcement delivers tips to protect packages from theft

Porch piracy escalates during the holiday shopping season as more delivered packages are left outside homes.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

With holiday shopping in season, the potential for thefts of home-delivered packages is again on the rise.

Police tend to see an increase in porch piracy — theft of packages outside homes — in December, said Lt. Rick Aguilar of the San Diego Police Department’s Northern Division, which includes La Jolla.

“People know there’s more deliveries this time of year,” Aguilar said, and thieves look for packages left outdoors. They also will follow delivery trucks such as from Amazon and UPS on their routes to find potential loot.

A letter from San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan that the La Jolla Shores Association shared with community members states that packages were stolen from about 26 million Americans in 2017.

“With the recent growth in online sales unlikely to slow down, it is more important than ever to know how to stop and prevent porch piracy,” the letter says.

Missing packages

If you believe a package may have been stolen, Stephan wrote, first check the perimeter of your home to ensure the package wasn’t placed somewhere other than the porch or check with neighbors to see whether it was misdelivered.

If you don’t find it, contact the shipping carrier to confirm the delivery and report the missing package, she wrote.

Residents also can submit a theft report to the San Diego Police Department by calling its non-emergency number, (619) 531-2000.

Theft prevention

To prevent packages from being targets of porch piracy, Aguilar said his biggest tip is “to schedule your packages to be delivered when you’ll be home.”

If that’s not possible, ask a neighbor or family member to pick up the package so it won’t be left outside your home, he suggested.

Installing a Wi-Fi-connected doorbell or camera that monitors the porch area can deter thieves and provide evidence in case of theft, he said.

Police also can use images from neighboring security cameras to check for license plates on a vehicle used by a package thief, Aguilar said.

San Diego police Community Relations Officer Jessica Thrift added that using a lockbox service such as Amazon Locker can help prevent package theft.

Stephan wrote that insuring every delivered package “guarantees that even in the case your package is stolen, you can obtain a refund or identical replacement.”

Vacation steps

Aguilar encouraged those going on holiday vacations to let their neighbors know.

Residents also can request vacation house checks at Uniformed personnel from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) will conduct the security checks, Aguilar said.

He added that residents should ensure their outdoor lights are working, and before they leave, set light timers or use Wi-Fi-connected and remotely controlled lightbulbs indoors to make it appear someone is home at various hours.

“Make sure doors and windows are secure,” Aguilar said, “and activate the alarm system if you have one.” ◆