‘Porch piracy’ is the scourge of our neighborhoods

A video doorbell system captures an image of a person stealing a package off a porch. (Photo: RightFramePhotoVideo, via Shutterstock)

 Online shopping has dramatically changed our economy. No longer do people need to get dressed to go to the mall. In their pajamas, with a click of a mouse, we can order virtually anything. As a result, more than 36 million packages are sent throughout the United States daily. Clothes, books, electronics, food, and even pharmaceuticals are delivered to people’s doorsteps.

Unfortunately, not all of those packages are reaching the intended customers.

Thieves watch the packages being delivered and then abscond with them before the homeowner gets an opportunity to retrieve the package. Porch pirates stole an estimated 210 million packages last year.

You feel like someone is watching you and looking for that opportunity to strike.

A recent study found that 64% of Americans have been the victim of porch piracy in the past year.

More than half of those victimized have had more than one package stolen.

Having that package stolen means one less birthday or Christmas present. It is one more item that is missing, whether sentimental or essential.

But it means so much more to people’s psyche. Having an item stolen from your porch makes people feel violated. You feel like someone is watching you and looking for that opportunity to strike. That vulnerability is difficult to deal with. The thieves are at our front door.

More frustrating is that there is very little recourse for dealing with these thieves.  Despite more people stating that they are the victims of property crimes, convictions for all property crimes have been down by more than 50% over the past six years.

Why is there such a difference between now and six years ago? Proposition 47.

CARRT is a broad-based coalition looking to undo the damage done by Prop. 47

In 2014, Californians passed the law, which reduced many crimes to misdemeanors, provided the total property value of items taken does not exceed $950. With reduced criminal penalties, public safety officials focused less on moving porch piracy cases forward, leading to a steep drop in arrests and convictions. The only solace for those losing packages is seeing porch pirates getting their comeuppance in YouTube videos with glitter bombs and fart spray.

That is why I have joined Californians Against Retail and Residential Theft (CARRT).

CARRT’s focus is to address the inequities established in Proposition 47. CARRT is a broad-based coalition looking to undo the damage done by Prop 47 and put an end to retail and residential theft on Main Street and in our neighborhoods. That starts by educating the State Capitol about the severity of the issue.

In the meantime, here are some things a person can do to protect items delivered to their homes:

–Alert neighbors if you have an important package being delivered. Having a neighbor holding a package for you is better than the potential alternative.
–Ask the carrier to leave parcels in an inconspicuous spot. If the package cannot be seen from the street, it is less enticing to a thief.
–Install a lockbox for packages. It is just another layer of safety to ensure you receive your packages.
–Look into adding a home security system. Thieves are less likely to commit the crime on camera.

Finally, if your package is stolen, it needs to be reported. Police and sheriffs’ departments will increase patrols and run bait programs to stop thieves. However, law enforcement will not know where to focus their efforts unless they have police reports.

As California continues to move toward digital shopping, the state must address the issue of porch piracy. Otherwise, the potential growth of the online economy may wind up walking the plank.

Editor’s Note: Andrew Brady is the President of the California Delivery Association


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