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Dude, Where's my Package?

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 17/03/2016 John Rampton
PACKAGE © Monkey Business Images via Getty Images PACKAGE

23 million households are victims of package theft. Every day, the average person leaves home and goes to work. For most of us, that work window overlaps with UPS and FedEx's delivery windows (8:00am-8:00pm Monday through Friday) so it's very easy for someone to swipe a package from unsuspecting front porches. Yes, 23 million of us have been affected by this. This crime is quickly becoming an epidemic for two reasons.

  1. No one is around. Stealing a package is like taking candy from a baby. It is so easy to get away with it!  Most of us are working when valuable packages are delivered so no one's looking out for Porch Pirates. There's usually no safeguards, no one around and no one watching so the odds of getting caught are pretty slim.
  2. More and more people are getting stuff delivered to their homes. As online retail sales topped $334 Billion in 2015 and continue to climb in 2016, that number of stolen packages will only increase as well. About half of us have had a package stolen. Amazon Prime has 54 Million US members. ( Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, LLC). So that means that just for Amazon Prime members alone, there's 27 Million packages stolen in the US. That does not take into account other online retail giants like Overstock.com, Target, Wayfair.com, etc. More and more people are ordering higher-priced items online and having them delivered to their unsecured front door, this is not a great trend when you also look at the number of package thefts that are occurring.
So how can we stop this? There are a lot of different options out there to help protect our packages. Some are expensive and others are time-consuming but there are some simple solutions worth considering.
 
1. Delivering packages to third-party locations. Everyone is familiar with USPS PO boxes and renting a mailbox from The UPS Store. Although there are some new entrants into the unstaffed mail drop industry.
    • Amazon began offering self service parcel delivery locations in 2011 that allow anyone to pick up their delivery 24 hours a day by selecting the locker which is most convenient and entering a unique pickup code on the locker touch screen.
    • More recent on-demand economy entrants include Doorman. The concept of Doorman is exactly what it sounds like, they provide anyone with a virtual doorman, who can hold your packages at their warehouse and deliver in the evening or whenever it is most conveneit. This luxury is anywhere from $20 - $30 per month or $5 per package.
2. Technology enabled solutions. As software companies begin to consume the physical world, Uber, AirBnB, Ebay, web enabled technology or the internet of things, is beginning to connect different parts of our homes to make our lives easier. Some recent entrants to this space are;
  • Front porch cameras like the Nest, Video Doorbell and Ring are easy to set up and cost about $200 -$300. Although these options won't stop a porch pirate, you get to see who did steal your package and can forward it to your neighbors and police.
  • Package Guard is an alarm device that sits on your front porch and sounds an alarm if someone nabs your package without entering a passcode in your smartphone. Package Guard is $50 on Kickstarter for a limited time.
  • Parcel drop boxes, similar to The Elephant Trunk, are another great front porch solution and are typically used for businesses or condos and can cost anywhere from $300.00 to $2000.00
3. Staffed Location. If you are lucky enough to live in an apartment or condo building with a full time leasing office, you know how beneficial they can be to accept packages. For everyone else, here are the options you have.
  • UPS is expanding their Access point locations to over 100 cities and 8000 locations. The concept is quite simply, instead of just leaving a "we missed you" notice on your door, UPS will deliver your package to a local access point to pick up after normal business hours. These locations include dry cleaners, drug stores and coffee shops.
  • If you do not have a landlord or leasing office to rely on and you cannot wait until the evening to receive from a UPS access point, the final solution is to work remotely from home and wait it out. Although this is the most time consuming, it is one of the most certain ways to ensure your package is delivered!
Rigging traps for repeat offenders with package surprises such as soiled kitty litter and dog poop. Even law enforcement is getting creative to help stop this epidemic. Police in Rancho Cordova, California started a program to deliver decoy packages to lure porch pirates and have caught two would-be thieves. As more people rely on home delivery for important and valuable items, the rise of the porch pirates will continue, unless we begin to implement smart technology near our front doors to prevent the theft from happening. For those who want to leave their USPS, FedEx, UPS or Amazon delivery unprotected, we hope you are lucky enough to work from home or enjoy spending your weekends in line at the a package sorting hub. For the rest of us who are chained to our desk during the all-day delivery window, the average joe will need to leverage technology to virtually assist with the safety of their packages.

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