How to stop porch hackers from snatching packages
Millions of Americans discovered the myriad benefits of shopping online for the first time during the pandemic, as online sales jumped 32.4% from 2019 to 2020 and continued to increase in 2021, according to the US Census Bureau.
After all, you can shop 24/7 from the comfort of your pajamas; you don’t have to fight traffic to get to the mall and walk around the parking lot; it is easy to compare prices between several online retailers; and the products are shipped right to your door.
But now that many are returning to an office to work, who will be home to receive the packages?
As we head into peak shopping season, the last thing you want is your gifts to be taken from your door by “porch pirates”.
There are several things you can do to deter thieves. Here are four ideas:
There’s no shortage of outdoor cameras so you can see who’s at your front door – whether you’re home or not – and talk to visitors through the built-in microphone and speaker. You are immediately notified on your smartphone when it detects movement.
You’re probably familiar with Amazon’s Ring family ($ 169.99 for Video Doorbell Pro) and maybe Google’s Nest Doorbell (starting at $ 179.99), as these are two popular choices. But you might not know that you have to pay to access the previously saved videos.
That is, you can live chat with someone for free, but in order to review what you missed (up to 60 days) and share videos and photos, you will need a Ring Protect plan (from $ 3 / month or $ 30 / year) for Amazon devices. and a Nest Aware subscription for the Google Nest doorbell (starting at $ 8 / month or $ 80 / year) to go back up to 30 days (plus other features, like sharing clips).
But if you want to forgo purchasing another subscription to access previously recorded video, check out the Lorex 2K Wi-Fi Video Doorbell ($ 179.99), which doesn’t charge a monthly fee. Recordings are stored on the included 32GB MicroSD card, and the Lorex Home smartphone app (available for iOS and Android devices) lets you chat in real time with visitors and review older videos. The wired doorbell offers color night vision, a night light and the ability to play pre-recorded audio messages when someone rings.
Do you live in a rain-prone area or in an area targeted by porch pirates? Lorex also offers the Lorex Weatherproof 1080p Wi-Fi Projector Camera ($ 179.99), which houses two ultra-bright LED lights (to produce a total of 4000 lumens), Full HD recording, siren triggered at distance, two-way sound and infrared night vision.
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Allow access to the garage
Free, but exclusively for Amazon Prime members ($ 119 / year), Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery allows a (verified) courier to open your garage door to place packages in and then close it. It works with Chamberlain’s myQ smart connected garages. You can enter your zip code to see if garage delivery services are available in your area. (The home option, allowing couriers to place packages inside your door, is currently on hold due to COVID-19.)
When purchasing items (including groceries), select “Key Collection” at checkout. You will receive a notification upon arrival, along with an option to watch the delivery live.
After the driver requests to unlock the garage door through their Amazon handheld scanner, Amazon verifies the driver’s location and the package belongs to your address. Once confirmed, the garage door is unlocked with a one-time code, and the driver places the package right inside, then asks to lock the door. It is not necessary to share your garage code.
Another option is to place a lockable mailbox on your porch for couriers and letter carriers to protect deliveries from thieves and the elements.
Some don’t have the smarts going for them, like the Danby Parcel Guard Basic Mailbox ($ 229.00), a simple post office box that can hold packages up to 15 x 10 x 8 inches and has an anti-theft slot and a key lock to let you open it when you get home.
If desired, the mailbox can be bolted to the floor (fixings included) or weight can be added to the base of the unit (using sand or gravel).
If you want a high-tech mailbox, for an additional $ 70 there’s also the Danby Parcel Guard Smart Mailbox ($ 299.00), a Wi-Fi connected unit with motion sensor, camera, two-way voice communication. , integration of smart devices (Google and Alexa) and alarm. Receive real-time notifications on your smartphone app when a courier is there. To open the electronic lock to access the packages inside (up to 15 x 10 x 8 inches), use the keypad or the app. (Note: it needs a 120 volt power supply.)
Get it delivered to another location
Another idea is to have the packages delivered to a nearby post office. The U.S. Postal Service offers a range of PO Box sizes to keep your mail and packages safe at a nearby location.
The first step is to search for post offices near you using the search bar under Reserve a New PO Box. Then choose a location and make selections on your desired PO Box size and payment period. Finally, enter your contact details and billing information to reserve the box.
Finally, if it’s doable – that is, if your office is open and your boss doesn’t care – you can also direct online deliveries to your workplace if it’s during working hours. It can also give you the peace of mind of knowing your packages are safe from porch hackers.