Personal Finance

Porch Pirates: 6 Steps to Take if Your Package Gets Stolen From Your Door

Thousands of packages are stolen during the holiday season. Follow these steps if you've been the victim of package theft.

Nearly one in three online shoppers has had a package stolen from their front porch or doorway, according to a survey of e-commerce customers by Shorr Packaging. And with the sharp uptick in online shopping over the holiday season, the so-called "porch pirates" who pilfer these packages are just getting started.

If you were unlucky enough to have a package stolen from your front door, here's what you need to do.

What to do if a package is stolen from your porch.

If your mail was stolen, follow these steps to be reimbursed or to receive a replacement item.

Step 1: Track Your Package

If you suspect your package was stolen, the first thing you should do is check your purchase confirmation email for tracking information. Typically, you will receive a tracking number that you can use to track the item's shipping status. Sometimes all you need to do is click this number or button, but other times, you may need to copy the number and enter it on the website of the retailer or shipping company.

It's normal for shipments to face delays, especially during peak shipping seasons such as the holidays. The shipping status will show you where your package was last registered or the date on which it was delivered to the shipping address.

If the item is listed as having been delivered, continue to step 2.

Step 2: Check That a Well-Meaning Neighbor Doesn’t Have It

If you've verified that the item was delivered, check with your neighbors. It’s embarrassing to unleash your wrath on a customer support representative, only to discover the kind lady next door saw your package and took it in order to prevent it from getting stolen or rained on.

Step 3: Contact the Seller or Retailer

If it appears your package has been stolen, contact the seller or retailer that sold you the item. Different retailers have different policies and processes for handling stolen items, but usually, you are entitled to a refund or a replacement item.

For example, Amazon covers most stolen packages through its “A-to-z” Guarantee Protection. In some cases, purchases that are fulfilled by Amazon are actually sourced from retail partners known as “Amazon Sellers.” (You should know if that’s the case at the time you order the item.) Amazon requires that you first contact this third-party seller and try to settle the issue with them. But if you've waited two or more business days for a response or the seller is uncooperative, you can file a claim with Amazon and they'll issue a refund.

In many cases, the retailer will agree to quickly dispatch a replacement item. But if they decline responsibility and refuse to issue a replacement, there are still a few steps you can take to receive reimbursement for the lost item.

Step 4: File a Claim with the Shipping Company

Sometimes, retailers try to shift responsibility to the shipping company, or they'll require you to file a complaint and wait a certain number of days to ensure your package won't be recovered.

If you encounter such scenarios, you also might want to file a claim with the shipping company. UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL all provide an online claims process to report your missing item, or you can contact them over the phone.

Shipping CompanyFile a Claim Online
FedExStart a claim
UPSStart a claim
USPSStart a claim
DHLStart a claim

Step 5: Check your Credit Cards for Purchase Protection

Many credit cards offer purchase protection that will reimburse you for stolen items, provided the item was purchased entirely with that credit card, and the card issuer is alerted within a specified timeframe. Check your credit card provider's website to check for this coverage and to file a claim. Unfortunately, some credit card companies exclude coverage for high-value items (typically worth over $500 or $1000), and some card issuers may require you to file a police report before they'll offer a refund. Also, credit card purchase protection is often secondary coverage, meaning it kicks in only after primary coverage, such as renters insurance, has been applied. That brings us to step six.

Step 6: Claim High-Value Items with Your Homeowners Insurance

Most homeowners or renters insurance policies cover stolen packages. Unfortunately, it’s helpful only for purchases whose value is well above your deductible. With typical homeowners insurance deductibles running from $500 to $2,000 dollars, filing a claim won’t make sense for most stolen packages. Even if the lost item is more than the deductible, you’ll need to weigh the possibility of your homeowners insurance company increasing your premiums after the claim, not to mention the hassle of filing the claim itself.

Ways to Protect Yourself

Experiencing package theft is frustrating, and the claims process can be even worse. If you want to protect yourself this holiday season, consider these options to protect your packages while you're away from home.

Insure your packages

If you're ordering a high-value item online, such as a new iPhone or tablet, pay a few extra bucks to insure its delivery. You can usually do this either with the vendor or through the postal service delivering the package.

Prepare for in-person delivery

The best way to prevent mail theft is to only receive packages in person. You can do this by informing your postal service company that you require a signature for delivery, or by making sure that your mail is delivered to an address where somebody is always present. If you're regularly away from home, see if a neighbor is willing to accept delivery. Or, if it's okay with your employer and your package is small, designate your workplace as the shipping address.

Use a lockbox service

A second way to prevent stolen mail is to have packages delivered to a lockbox through a service such as Amazon Locker. Some grocery or convenience stores also offer this type of service, or you can have your package delivered to your local UPS or USPS center and pick it up there. If you fancy a shorter trip the the post office, you can buy a combination-protected lockbox that sits on your porch and protects your packages until you get home.

Install a security camera

There are many cheap home security cameras that are easy to install around the perimeter of your home. Most of these cameras sync with your wifi and even a phone app, so you can check in on packages left throughout the day. The mere presence of these cameras may be enough to ward off would-be porch pirates, but even if it doesn't, you'll now have evidence for your police report.

An added bonus: installing these cameras may qualify you for a homeowners insurance discount.

Daniel Caughill

Daniel is a Staff Writer at ValuePenguin, covering insurance, retirement and other personal finance topics. He previously wrote about compliance and best practices for K-12 school districts at Frontline Education.