If you’re like me, you probably buy tons of stuff online. Thy get sent to you in a neat little package and left on your porch.
But if you’re not at home in time of delivery, someone can easily steal the package and walk away as if nothing happened.
With Amazon and other online retailers becoming more popular, some solutions have been developed to minimize the risks of package theft. But you still need to actually know these methods in order to use them.
So in this article I’ll break down the 10 best ways to prevent package theft so that you can have expensive items delivered to your doorstep without having to worry about nasty thieves. These methods are super easy to use. So let’s start with tip #1.
1. Schedule deliveries
If you don’t know when the package will arrive, you’re leaving things to Goddess of Fortune. Instead of relying on blind luck, you can set up notifications with delivery services so that you know exactly when the package will arrive. In case you won’t be at home at that particular time, you can have it rescheduled or have it held for pickup.
These notifications are actually free, so definitely take the opportunity if you have to. But sometimes rescheduling does cost a small fee. You can sign up for notifications with UPS, FedEx or USPS which will allow you to see alternate delivery options. If you sign up with FedEx, you also get to select a nearby Walgreens for delivery.
This is pretty useful if you’re in the US, because Walgreens are all over the place and most of them are open 24 hours. You can pick up your package there and be sure that it’s perfectly safe.
2. Add delivery instructions
Every delivery service will automatically leave your package on the front porch. This is something that thieves are well aware of, and it’s also the most visible spot so that’s rather unfortunate. But here’s what you can do:
- look for a “delivery instructions” option when entering shipping information
- add any details that can help secure your package
- for example, tell them to leave the package by a side door or a window, or somewhere in the backyard instead of the front porch
3. Use Amazon Key for in-house deliveries
Amazon Key is an awesome security option. It adds the function of remote locking and unlocking of a smart lock. If you have it, you can allow the Amazon’s delivery staff to unlock your door in order to leave your package inside. This is obviously much safer than if it were left on the porch.
You might be thinking: “How is it safe to let some stranger enter my home and possibly snoop around?” Well there are many restrictions in place in order to prevent this from happening. Here’s how the whole process works:
- When the driver arrives, they’ll knock on your door
- If there’s no answer, they’ll send a request to Amazon to unlock your door
- Amazon will verify that the driver who has your package is at your address
- Amazon will then notify you that your package is being delivered, and turn on the Cloud Cam so you can watch the deliver live from your electronic device (laptop, tablet, smartphone etc.)
- The driver will NOT unlock the door by himself. It’s a automatic process done by Amazon remotely without providing the driver with the keycode
- The driver is not allowed to move around your house. They’re only allowed to leave the package just inside the door
- Once the package is left inside, the driver closes the door and notifies Amazon to lock it
So this is actually a completely safe delivery system, and there’s really no chance for the driver to do anything silly in your home.
If you’re not at home, they will have to turn on the Cloud Cam so you can watch the entire process and make sure that everything goes properly. In fact, the delivery will be recorded by Amazon, so you can either watch it live or later whenever you want.
Here’s how it actually works in real life:
The cool thing about Amazon Key is that it allows keyless entry not just for deliveries but also for anyone else you want. Perhaps your family members, guests, the cleaning lady etc.
For the Amazon Key you need to have a smart lock and connected camera from Amazon. On the Amazon Key page, you will find a few smart lock + camera kits that work the best. At the moment the recommended locks include a highly rated Schlage, Yale and Kwikset. All three have been given high ratings by users and security experts.
The only downside of this bundle is that it costs between $200-$300, and you may want to hire a professional to install it for you unless you’re confident in your DIY skills. However after paying the up-front cost, the package delivery services are free for Prime members.
To conclude, there are three situations when I feel that the Amazon Key bundle is worth the investment:
- If you order a lot of stuff online, especially from Amazon
- If your neighborhood and home have been targets of theft already (repeat thefts happen frequently, which is why some neighborhoods are forced to organize a Neighborhood Watch to break the cycle)
- If you want to upgrade your locks and wouldn’t mind having a few extra features
4. Use Amazon Key for in-car delivery
If you want your package delivered in your car instead of your house, this can also be easily arranged with the Amazon Key feature. Amazon delivery driver can unlock your car, leave the package inside and lock it.
For this to work, simply park your car in a publicly accessible area, and it’s the same process like the in-house delivery (video of in-car delivery). However, you need to make sure that your car is in the area within the delivery window of four hours.
This is pretty convenient if you expect a delivery while you’re at school or at work for example. It’s also free for Prime members. So if your car is connected to Amazon Key and has the remote unlock-and-lock feature you can almost definitely use it.
However, it isn’t available in some areas and some vehicles. I would also make sure that you’re parking in a safe area and that you have your vehicle properly secured with anti-theft devices. At least have a reliable alarm system in case anyone tries to manipulate the lock or smash the window to reach the package.
In fact, keeping any valuables visible through the car window is not advised. Make sure that the package is delivered into your trunk if there’s enough room for it. Or place tinted glass film on your car’s windows so that the interior cannot be inspected by looking through the windows.
Having said that, here’s everything you need to know about this service straight from Amazon.
5. Get the package on your own schedule
There are a couple really useful services that will take in your package and deliver it to you when you’re ready.
Doorman: One of the best is the Doorman delivery service. All you need to do is sign up for the account and the packages will be sent to Doorman address rather than your home address. When you’re ready, they will deliver the package to your home address.
This service costs $5 per delivery and an extra $2 per package. You could also subscribe at $19 per month starting price if you’ll be receiving multiple deliveries.
Doorman is available in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago at the moment. But there are a few other great services that are available in other places.
Amazon Locker: If you’re ordering on Amazon, the Amazon Locker is a great choice. Basically, Amazon will ship your package to their Amazon Locker in your city, and they will hold it there up to three business days.
Best of all – it’s completely free and it’s available in over 900 cities.
Here’s how it works:
- Search for a locker location near you on Amazon’s Locker page. You can also do this when selecting shipping options at checkout
- Select the locker you want
- Complete checkout as normal
- When your package is delivered, Amazon will email you a 6-digit code to access your locker
- Pick up your package from the locker within three days to avoid it being returned
Parcel: This service is similar to Doorman but it’s available only in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The package gets shipped to your unique Parcel address. Then Parcel sends you a notification text with four one-hour windows for home delivery, from 7 pm to 11 pm.
And best of all, Parcel will keep your package up to 30 days, so it can come in handy when you’re travelling. It costs just $5 per delivery even if you have more than one package.
TaskRabbit: This is a pretty unique service that allows you to outsource a task to someone else. You can use the site to have someone sign for a package or get a package that’s held at the UPS store for example. There are also different categories such as “furniture assembly”, “heavy lifting”, “general handyman” and a few more.
You choose a “Tasker” from the website to get the job done for you. This is more of a freelance platform than a professional service. Taskers get rated for the previous jobs they’ve done and you can set up restrictions and other arrangements on an individual basis.
The service is available in 19 different cities at the moment.
Free alternate delivery location: This can be a friend, a neighbor, a relative, or perhaps even your workplace. Anyone who you can trust to pick up your package if you’re not sure that you’ll be at home when it arrives.
6. Use a video doorbell
A video doorbell won’t necessarily prevent a thief from stealing your package. But it can act as a powerful deterrent.
With motion detection and the ability to record videos of what’s happening at your front door no ordinary thief will be willing to take chances. And if they do, you’ll have great footage to show to the police.
It can also be used to speak with a delivery person. They ring the bell, and then you instruct the person where to leave the package.
Similar to Amazon Key, this is an option that requires a modest upfront costs in the range of $100 to $200, and requires installation as well.
If you want to constantly record, you’ll likely need a subscription to a cloud recording service as well. So consider a video doorbell as more than just a way to secure your packages. Because the features it provides are used for home security in general.
The most popular and arguably best video doorbell is the completely wireless Ring Video Doorbell. It has close to 7000 customer reviews on Amazon and costs around $170.
It’s easy to install and provides excellent 1080 HD video quality with infrared night vision, and other useful features like motion detection and two-way speech. It also includes Lifetime Theft Protection warranty, so if it ever gets stolen you receive a brand new one for free.
7. In-store pickup
If you’re purchasing from a retailer with a physical store, you may be able to pick up the purchase in your local store. You can often find the “in-store pickup” shipping option, especially when buying from big retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Target etc. These stores are everywhere so you probably have one nearby that you can easily drive up to and pick up your package.
There’s usually no delivery fee for in-store pickups. It can also be a very quick process because if the item is in stock already, you can usually pick it up on the same day. You can skip the checkout line (because you payed for it already). Simply look for the customer service desk or package pick-up desk to receive your item.
8. Lockable package delivery box
Perhaps the easiest way to secure a delivered package is by having a lockable delivery box. These come in different shapes and sizes. They can be mounted on a wall, a front door or bolted to the floor. Here are two great options:
Architectural Mailbox & Parcel Drop Box: This is a great looking delivery box that can be used for mail and larger packages. It has a rotating drum design that accepts large parcels.
The retrieval door is equipped with pry-resistant 3-point lock system with 2 keys. And most importantly, it bolts securely to the ground so that it can’t be removed by a thief.
This is a perfect long-term solution for receiving deliveries safely and also protecting them from bad weather in case you’re away for a while. See the current price and reviews on Amazon.
The Porch Pirate Chest: When you’re expecting a package or parcel, just set up the chest and the delivery driver can place the item in the chest and lock it.
Once you’ve retrieved your parcel, you can easily collapse the chest and tuck it away against the wall or store it easily in a closet or cupboard.
It can be easily mounted to an exterior wall or temporarily to a front door with a special mounting device. It also comes with a combination lock, a lockable cable to attach it to your railing and an under the door ‘shoe’ that fits under the front door and secures the chest temporarily.
All in all, the Porch Pirate Chest is another great long-term solution for secure deliveries. It’s also fully portable if you don’t mount it permanently to the wall. It’s also more affordable than the Architectural Mailbox costing about $80 less.
The only downside is that the package can still be affected by bad weather and rain unless you cover it with some additional fabric.
There are many smaller lockable boxes available as well, but they are mostly reserved for mail. They don’t have the capacity for holding larger packages.
9. Request a Vacation Package Hold
If you’re going away on a vacation or a business trip, you can use some free services that will uphold your package.
I’ve already mentioned some such as Parcel and Amazon Locker. But they either hold the package for a short time like 3 days or they’re not available in every city.
USPS mail holding service is more reliable in this regard, but it will charge $5 for every package that is rescheduled or delivered to a UPS retail location on UPS My Choice.
FedEx also has delivery options you can use, such as a free holiday hold you can apply for online.
10. Place theft deterrents around your property
There are many ways to make your house seem more intimidating for a burglar.
You can place warning signs and stickers of a guard dog, a surveillance system or an armed property owner for example.
There are also cheap dummy security cameras you can easily mount on a wall that look exactly like the real thing.
There are also more functional options, like a real home security camera, or a motion detection floodlight that gets triggered when someone approaches. For more information on those, check out my 43 home security tips.
Place one or more of these deterrents around your home and the thieves will be more likely to visit your neighbors porch instead.
Final Thoughts on Package Theft Prevention
To summarize this article, there are 5 strategies to ensure the safety of your package:
- use a safe alternative, more secure delivery location, whether it’s a delivery service, a friend or your workplace
- pick up the package on your own schedule by using delayed delivery services
- use an in-home or in-vehicle delivery with Amazon Key
- get a lockable delivery box
- use deterrents and surveillance, whether that’s warning signs or an actual security camera, video doorbell or motion detection floodlights
Every case is individual. Some of us order stuff online all the time, and a lockable delivery box would make for a good investment. For those who receive packages only rarely, a safe delivery service that they can use from time to time would probably be a more affordable option. Hope this helps!