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Porch Pirates: 6 Steps to Take if Your Package Is Stolen

Nearly 4 in 10 shoppers have had a package stolen before it could be delivered

This is according to a study commissioned by ValuePenguin. While the number of deliveries ticks upward during the holidays, this data reminds consumers that package theft is a pervasive issue throughout the entire year.

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 the 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 it was delivered.

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

Step 2: Check if your neighbors saw it or held onto it for you

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. Even if they don't have your package, your neighbors might have seen it earlier in the day.

Step 3: Contact the seller or retailer

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

Amazon covers most stolen packages through its "A-to-Z" Guarantee Protection. Sometimes, 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.)

If that's the case for your purchase, Amazon requires that you first contact the Amazon 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 likely issue a refund.

In many cases, retailers will quickly agree to send you 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.

Step 4: File a claim with the shipping company

Sometimes, retailers try to shift responsibility to the shipping company or require you to file a complaint and wait a certain number of days to find out for certain whether your package won't be delivered.

If you encounter this scenario, you might want to file a claim with the shipping company as well. UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL all provide an online claims process to report your missing item, and you can also contact them by phone.

Shipping company
Online claim form
UPSStart a claim
USPSStart a claim
DHLStart a claim

Step 5: Use the purchase protection features on your credit card

Many credit cards offer purchase protection that will reimburse you for stolen items — as long as the item was purchased entirely with that credit card and the card issuer is notified 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 anything worth over $500 to $1,000). Some may require you to file a police report before they'll offer a refund. Finally, credit card purchase protection is often defined as secondary coverage, which means it only kicks in after you've already utilized primary coverage such as homeowners or renters insurance. 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, this is only helpful for purchases that are worth more than your deductible.

Given that most homeowners insurance deductibles run between $500 to $2,000, 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 due to your claim, not to mention the hassle of filing the claim itself.

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How to prevent package theft

Experiencing package theft is frustrating, and the claims process can be even worse. If you want to minimize your risk of losing packages, consider these options to protect your packages while you're away from home.

Schedule for in-person delivery

The best way to prevent mail theft is to receive your 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 want to skip the drive to the post office, buy a combination-protected lockbox for your porch that protects your packages until you get home.

Insure your packages

If you're ordering a high-value item online, such as a new iPhone or tablet, pay a few extra dollars for insurance. You can usually do this either through the vendor or the delivery service.

Install a security camera

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

Bonus: Installing security cameras may qualify you for a homeowners insurance discount.

What to do if your package is stolen by porch pirates

What is the value of stolen packages, and what steps have been taken by consumers?

According to a study commissioned by ValuePenguin, package theft has affected more than 40% of American at some point. In the past 12 months, more than 5 in 10 shoppers reported having more than one package stolen, for an average loss of $106 per household.

Applied to the Census total of U.S. households, these averages suggest that porch piracy cost U.S. consumers over $7.4 billion in the last year:

  • Estimated number of victims: 144 million
  • Average loss per household: $106
  • Estimated value of stolen goods in the past year: $7.4 billion

Despite the abundance of burglaries, about three-quarters of Americans reported that they've done nothing to protect their deliveries from future thefts — including more than half of people over the age of 55. Nearly 2 in 3 thefts happened just outside of the victims' homes, so consider taking multiple precautions to ward off brazen would-be thieves.

Bar graph showing the measures most people took to prevent package theft
Bar graph showing the measures most people took to prevent package theft

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.