If you shop for a lot of goods online, beware matey — porch pirates may have their eye on your doorstep.
The term “porch pirate” is a slang description for thieves who look for — and steal — package deliveries left near front doors and on porches.
Recently, SafeWise — which offers home security reviews and advice — released its fifth annual Package Theft in America report, in conjunction with Vivint Smart Home, a home security company.
In the report, SafeWise estimates that porch pirates snatched around 260 million packages across the U.S. during 2022, an increase of 50 million packages compared with 2021.
SafeWise notes that there is no national database that tracks package theft. Its rankings are based on a combination of Google Trends data and FBI larceny-theft numbers.
These are the 10 cities where porch pirates strike most often and where you are at highest risk of such theft:
- San Francisco
- Austin, Texas
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Sacramento, California
- Los Angeles
- Portland, Oregon
- Fresno, California
- New Orleans
While California is the nation’s hotspot for porch pirates — taking four of the top 10 slots — Florida cities are among the places where you are safest from these thieves. The top five cities where porch pirates are least likely to strike are:
- Tampa, Florida
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Orlando, Florida
SafeWise polled about 1,000 Americans for the report and found that more than 75% said they have been victims of package theft at some point during their lives.
In addition, 79% of poll respondents said they had been victims of package theft in the past 12 months — an increase of 15% over the prior year’s survey.
SafeWise estimates that $19.5 billion is lost to package theft every year.
How to stop porch pirates
There are steps you can take to fight back against porch pirates, but they aren’t always effective. For example, more than one-third of those who had a package stolen said they had a security camera or video doorbell camera operating at the time of the theft.
And 8% of victims said they had a lockbox or package delivery locker, but it still failed to foil the pirates.
In a summary of the report’s findings, Abhi Bhatt, senior vice president of product and innovation at Vivint, says technology still can play a useful role in deterring porch pirates:
“Technology is part of a proactive approach you can take and we recommend smart doorbells and cameras that not only alert you when your packages are stolen, but actively deter theft by playing a sound or shining a light to let porch pirates know someone is watching.”
Other steps you can take to protect your packages include:
- Opt in to delivery alerts, so you will know when the package has been delivered and can grab it.
- Require signatures for your packages.
- Keep your front doorstep and porch area well-lit.