Porch Pirates — A Growing & Costly Problem

For the next couple of weeks we’ll be seeing more of this group of miscreants than usual. The group? Porch pirates.

According to SafeWise/Vivint research over 260 million packages were stolen off of porches between November of 2021 and November of 2022. That’s about $19.5 billion in financial losses.

Breaking that down, it’s $59 per person for every person in the United States.

The NW Insurance Council sent out a news release this week on porch pirating. The council quotes Forbes Home. It found that eight of 10 of us have been porch pirate victims.

Subject to your deductible, much of that theft is insured by your homeowners or renters insurance policy so keep those receipts.

“If you suffer a costly loss — or damage to your home due to a theft — Homeowners or Renters insurance may help you recover from the loss,” the NW Insurance Council news release said. “Most homeowners and renters insurance provide coverage for your personal possessions inside and outside your home, including packages delivered to your doorstep. And if packages are stolen from your car, it’s not your auto insurance that will cover the loss but your Homeowners or Renters insurance.”

That said, NW Insurance Council President Kenton Brine said it may actually not be an option most of us will pursue.

“It is pretty typical for a homeowners insurance deductible to be a percentage of the insured value of the home, and may be in the $1,500 – $2,500 range, or more,” Brine said. “But if the value of your stolen package is more than your deductible and you can provide purchase information, the good news is that your policy is likely to provide replacement coverage.”

As to the problem itself, Rebecca Edwards of SafeWise said porch pirating is big business. She’s the company’s safety expert and quoted the U.S. Census Bureau’s e-commerce totals. They’re rising at about 10.8% per year.

“It may seem like it’s so much more abundant because we’re watching for it now,” Edwards says. “A decade ago, it’s something you may not have talked about — and certainly something you wouldn’t have seen caught on camera and posted all over social media or neighborhood apps.”

Can anything be done legally? Porch piracy is a crime in eight states with package-theft legislation. However, like most theft legislation these days, the crime is pretty much ignored as it is lumped in with petty thefts.

It is a federal crime to steal something delivered by the U.S. Postal Service but it is not a federal crime to grab a package delivered by Amazon, FedEx or UPS.

“The benefits of specific state laws make it easier to punish package thieves, and it gives law enforcement more insight into how widespread this specific crime really is,” Edwards noted. “Without a specific law on the books, package theft may not even be chargeable, and at best it would be a misdemeanor.”

Congress is thinking of instituting a Porch Pirates Act. It would make thefts from Amazon, etc. a federal crime like theft from the U.S. Postal service. That’s a large fine and up to five years in prison.

But will enacting that law really change anything? Flash mobs roam big cities and terrorize big malls, strip malls and large department stores with impunity. Porch Pirating isn’t quite so dramatic.

By the way, porch pirating is not just a holiday problem. It’s something that goes on all year long. And look for the problem to continue to grow as Americans do more and more online shopping.

Here are some tips offered by the NW Insurance Council to protect your packages:

Before you pay online, check to see if your method of payment (bank credit or debit cards, or online payment systems like Venmo or PayPal) offer “purchase protection” for stolen or damaged items.

Before ordering a purchase online, familiarize yourself with the claims process and reimbursement or replacement policies for each delivery service — such as UPS, FedEx, Amazon and USPS — if your package is lost or stolen.

Insure your purchases for the full amount of the item with the seller and/or the carrier shipping the package.

Use tracking numbers to keep track of your packages and/or require signatures on all package deliveries.

Take advantage of delivery service email or text delivery alerts on your smart phone and try to have someone at home to receive the package if you know when it’s going to be delivered.

Consider having packages delivered to an alternate location, such as your workplace or a parcel locker, or connect with trusted neighbors, and plan to sign for and receive each other’s packages when the other is not at home.

Install a security camera system at your front door. It may not prevent a porch pirate from stealing your package, but you’ll have their face on video if you decide to file a police report. Just make sure the camera is set at an angle that easily captures visitor’s faces.

Package Stolen? What To Do

Once you’ve verified the package was delivered, check with your neighbors first just in case it was delivered to the wrong house. Also check around and near your front door in case the delivery driver placed the package in a spot that’s hidden from plain view.

Make sure to keep all receipts, tracking numbers, delivery confirmations and any other evidence you have of the item in the lost or stolen package.

If your package is confirmed stolen, contact the seller or retailer and file a claim with them. Various retailers have different policies for handling stolen items and you are likely entitled to a refund or a replacement.

You may also want to file a claim with the shipping company. Contact the carrier online or by phone to report the missing or stolen package. Carriers, such as the Postal Service or UPS, have their own processes for handling lost and stolen packages.

The credit card you used to buy the item may have Purchase Protection. If the item was purchased entirely by that credit card, and the card issuer is alerted within a specified timeframe, you may be reimbursed for the stolen package. Just make sure to review your credit card company’s Purchase Protection policy to familiarize yourself with any exclusions that may apply.

Source link: NW Insurance Council — https://bit.ly/3RFJXZt

Source link: Forbes Advisor — https://bit.ly/3GHf80a

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