Nearly 1 in 5 Consumers Experienced Package Theft Since the Start of Quarantine

Nearly 1 in 5 Consumers Experienced Package Theft Since the Start of Quarantine

With home delivery orders increasing by nearly 40% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, package thefts have surged.

The stay-at-home orders that have been implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused an uptick in package deliveries – and thieves have taken notice. According to a recent ValuePenguin survey of more than 1,000 Americans, 18% of consumers have experienced package theft in the past four months.

These short-term thefts are a part of a larger problem that consumers face throughout the course of a normal year. About 43% of survey respondents reported being victims of package theft at some point in the past. Furthermore, more than 54% of respondents had multiple deliveries stolen in the last 12 months.

In spite of the prevalence of package thefts, many consumers aren't taking steps to mitigate the risk of losing a package. One-third of respondents say they have taken no action to reduce their chances of experiencing porch piracy.

Key Findings:

Nearly 1 in 5 consumers have been victims of porch piracy amid the coronavirus crisis, with 18% having had a package or delivery stolen since March. In all, 43% of consumers reported a package theft in the past.

Some are more vulnerable to package theft than others. During the pandemic, Gen Xers and millennials together reported more than 4 in 10 package thefts since March, and 64% of incidents since last year.

About 30% of porch piracy victims did not get all of their money back, resulting in an average loss of $106. Less than half of victims said the package thief was eventually caught.

While 14% of those who experienced a recent theft said a grocery or meal delivery box was stolen, this number has actually decreased since the pandemic began in March.

Despite the continued risk of package theft, 33% of consumers have taken no action to prevent package thefts within the past year.

More than one-quarter of Americans know someone who had a package stolen during the COVID-19 crisis, while 18% report having been themselves targeted by thieves.

Consumers' reliance on no-contact shopping during the crisis has contributed to the increase in package thefts. About 37% of survey respondents said they increased their package deliveries since the start of the pandemic. Of these consumers, millennials and Gen Xers comprised the largest percentage, as more than 40% of each age group reported receiving more deliveries since March.

As a consequence of this increase in package deliveries, millennials and Gen Xers were the most likely to be the victims of package theft. Together, these groups reported more 42% of package thefts since the start of the pandemic, with Gen Zers following behind those groups.

Since March, about 40% of package thefts have happened to residents of apartment buildings. Residents of duplex homes were also likely to experience theft: more than one-quarter of the porch piracies that have happened during the pandemic have involved residents living in these houses.

Unexpectedly, most package thefts during quarantine weren't predominant in states like New York or New Jersey, where large proportions of the population live in apartment buildings. Instead, 24% of package thefts have occurred in New England since March – the most of any U.S. region.

Although package thefts have affected many Americans during quarantine, this type of burglary isn't an isolated problem. An estimated 44% of Americans have had their packages stolen at some point, most commonly from right outside their front doors or on their porches.

What should you do if your delivery is stolen? If someone steals a package from your porch, there are a few steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of being reimbursed for your lost items. ValuePenguin recommends tracking your package, contacting your seller and filing a claim with the seller or shipper.

Older consumers are more likely to lose more valuable goods to thieves than younger victims. The overall average annual loss of property from package thefts in the last year was $106.

In the last 12 months, the overall average value lost to package theft was $106, with respondents reporting losses as high as $4,800 from a single package. During this time period, Gen Zers were most frequently targeted by porch pirates – more than 41% of thefts happened to this age group. However, Gen Zers reported losing an average of only $21 in the entire year to thieves.

On the other hand, Americans who were at least 75 years old lost an average of $210 in the last year – more than $100 compared to the average across all age groups. At the same time, these older shoppers only reported 12% of the thefts in the last year, meaning thieves were able to get a higher payout per each older victim they targeted.

In the last year, more than 57% of stolen packages were delivered by Amazon. Additionally, during the same time, groceries delivered by services like HelloFresh and Instacart made up 14% of stolen packages. Conversely, during the pandemic, when the use of these services increased dramatically, groceries only made up 12% of stolen goods.

For those shoppers who did experience stolen packages, most were able to recoup the full value of their lost items. Only 3 in 10 package theft victims said weren't fully reimbursed. About 75% of respondents said they were paid back or received a free replacement item. However, more than 1 in 5 victims only got back some of their money after a theft.

One-third of people haven't taken any measures to protect themselves against porch pirates, though more than 8 in 10 millennials have.

Despite the abundance of package thefts about one-third of all Americans haven't taken steps to reduce their chance of having their deliveries stolen. Specifically, about half of people over the age of 55 have taken no such measures.

On the other hand, more than 8 in 10 millennials have taken precautions meant to deter potential thieves. In fact, millennials were the most likely to take more than one step to stop future package thefts. About 35% of all residents who did take precautions opted to receive tracking notifications – the most common preventative measure – while about 20% installed doorbell cameras.

Still, extra security might not always prevent thieves from making off with other people's deliveries. Overwhelmingly, the highest percentage of packages that were stolen in the past year were taken from a property that employed a doorman or gate – 57% of thefts during this time came from these types of properties.

Most people who experienced porch piracy did try to resolve the theft by filing a claim with the seller, contacting the shipping company or reporting the theft to law enforcement. In fact, only 4% of victims didn't do anything after having a package stolen. However, about 17% Gen Z who experienced package theft did nothing afterwards.

About 14% of Americans purchased insurance directly from their delivery's shipper or retailer. This tends to be a better option than filing a claim on an item after it's stolen with your home or renters insurance. While the best insurers cover stolen property, making claims usually raises your premium. Usually, it's best to avoid using your insurance unless you've exhausted all other avenues and only when a high-value item is stolen.

Methodology

ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,020 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded June 12-15, 2020.

We defined generations as the following ages in 2020:

  • Gen Z are ages 18 to 23
  • Millennials are ages 24 to 39
  • Gen X are ages 40 to 54
  • Baby boomers are ages 55 to 74
  • Silent generation are ages 75 and older
Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst is a Technical Writer at ValuePenguin who writes about insurance. His analysis has been featured in Forbes, MSN and USA News, among others. He's also appeared in interviews broadcast by ABC and the CW. He previously taught composition and research at Wright State University.

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