Home delivery thefts skyrocketed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when stay-at-home orders were in place. Although much has changed since, the latest ValuePenguin survey of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers reveals that porch pirates are still a problem.
In fact, 35% of Americans have had a package or delivery stolen. And of this group, the majority say the theft occurred in the past year. The good news is that most say they’ve received compensation for their stolen packages.
Keep reading for tips on reporting porch piracy, and whether package thefts are worth filing a homeowners insurance claim.
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- More than a third of Americans (35%) have had a package or delivery stolen. 59% of consumers who’ve been a victim of package or delivery theft say it occurred in the past year. The majority of porch piracy occurs at single-family homes (62%) and apartment buildings (23%).
- Security cameras appear to be doing little to deter porch pirates. 60% of Americans who’ve reported a stolen package or delivery have at least one security camera. To protect their goods, many Americans impacted by porch pirates are stalking their deliveries by setting up tracking notifications (45%), installing doorbell cameras (35%) or choosing delivery times (27%).
- When it’s time to take action, only 17% of package or delivery theft victims in the past year say they reported the theft to the police. Most opt to resolve the issue through a claim with the seller (62%), while 30% do so with the shipping company.
- The average estimated value of the goods stolen in the past year is $114, though 71% of victims say they received some form of compensation during the most recent theft. Looking at the last time a package or delivery was stolen, 55% report receiving all their money back or getting a replacement item. However, 29% report they received no money or had to pay extra for a replacement item.
35% of Americans have had a package stolen — here’s who’s most likely to experience it
Online ordering is just one way the internet has made consumers’ lives easier, but, like all things, convenience comes at a cost. For package deliveries, that cost is the risk of theft. Overall, more than a third of Americans (35%) have had a package or delivery stolen. Of this group, 59% say it occurred in the past year.
Despite being the oldest generation among those tracked in this survey, 84% of baby boomers ages 57 to 76 report never having a package or delivery stolen — the highest rate of any age group. Only 55% of millennials ages 26 to 41 and 56% of Gen Zers ages 18 to 25 say similarly. Meanwhile, millennials (29%) and Gen Zers (28%) are most likely to report they had a package stolen in the past year. That compares with 19% of Gen Xers ages 42 to 56 and 8% of baby boomers.
High earners are more likely to have recently experienced package theft than low earners. Six-figure earners and those making between $75,000 and $99,999 are the most likely groups to have had a package stolen in the last year — 27% for both. On the other hand, just 17% of those making $35,000 or less say similarly — 10 percentage points lower than their high-earning counterparts.
Where do these package thefts occur most? Single-family homes are by far the most likely place porch pirates have targeted, accounting for 62% of thefts. Following that, 23% of recent package thefts occurred in apartment buildings.
Delivery theft isn’t limited to just one package for most victims. In fact, 51% of people who’ve had goods stolen in the past year report having several items taken. To break it down:
- 30% have had two packages stolen
- 13% have had three packages stolen
- 6% have had four packages taken
- 3% have had five or more packages taken
One reason consumers may be experiencing package theft recently could be because there’s more opportunity for it. Over the past three months, 15% of consumers have had more packages delivered to their homes — highest among millennials (21%) and Gen Zers (20%). In that same period, 23% of all consumers say their neighbors have experienced package theft.
Cameras don’t deter thieves
Security cameras offer a sense of protection for many consumers — almost half (46%) of Americans have at least one security camera — but it doesn’t seem like they’re scaring away porch pirates. Of those who’ve ever had a package stolen, 60% have at least one security camera.
ValuePenguin home insurance expert Divya Sangameshwar says consumers shouldn’t rely on security cameras alone to protect their packages.
"Security cameras are a helpful tool for law enforcement in case your package is stolen, but it’s useless as a tool to prevent package theft," she says. "Prevention relies on you being vigilant and picking up the parcel from your front door immediately. Thieves are also aware of video doorbells and how to dodge them, either by walking below the line of sight of the video doorbell or hiding their faces, making it harder to identify and catch them."
But security cameras aren’t the only anti-theft measures consumers have implemented in the past year. Among those who’ve ever had a package stolen, they’re most likely to recently protect their packages by enabling tracking notifications (45%). Beyond that, package theft victims are also likely to install doorbell cameras (35%) or choose delivery times (27%).
Those doorbell cameras may come in handy, as 67% of those who’ve experienced a package theft in the past year say their most recently stolen package was taken from their front door or porch. Although porch theft is most common, 16% had their most recently stolen package taken from a mailbox, and 11% had it stolen from a community mailroom.
Few victims report package theft to police
While package theft may be a pain, few victims feel compelled to file a police report. Of those who’ve lost a package to a porch pirate in the past year, only 17% say they reported the theft to the police. To resolve a stolen package, 62% of victims file a claim through the seller, while 30% do so with the shipping company.
Sangameshwar says it’s understandable that most consumers wouldn’t file a police report — particularly because they’re likely to get their money back from large online retailers like Amazon. And, generally, those targeted by porch pirates in the past year order from large retailers. In fact, the most commonly stolen packages are those ordered from Amazon (62%), other online retailers (33%) or food delivery services like Instacart or HelloFresh (11%).
Those who filed a claim through the shipping company may have a harder time getting their money back.
"With shipping companies, claims get more complicated," Sangameshwar says. "You may not be covered for package theft if you didn’t buy package insurance from the shipping company. Even with package insurance, you aren’t guaranteed protection against porch pirates. Many of these policies won’t cover package theft after the package is delivered."
Regardless of when their package was stolen, 58% of package theft victims say the culprit wasn’t caught. Although that number may seem high, it may be because the average value of the stolen goods isn’t worth pursuing (more on this below).
Consumers lost an estimated $114 in package thefts over the past year
The good news? Package theft victims aren’t always losing high-value items. Of those who’ve had a package stolen in the past year, the average estimated value of the goods stolen is $114. Even better news: Regardless of when the theft occurred, 71% of porch pirate victims say they received some form of compensation for their most recently stolen package.
When resolving their most recently stolen package through a claim, more than half (55%) of porch pirate victims say they either got all their money back or a free replacement item. However, 29% report they didn’t receive any money or had to shell out more cash for a replacement item.
Had a package stolen? Here’s what to do
We’ve covered whether retailers and shippers cover porch pirate theft — what about your home insurance provider?
"Most homeowners or renters insurance policies cover stolen packages," Sangameshwar says. "Unfortunately, this is only helpful for purchases that are worth more than your deductible. Given that most homeowners and renters insurance deductibles run between $250 and $5,000, filing a claim for a stolen package won't make sense for the average American."
Sangameshwar advises consumers to treat porch piracy like any other theft. Regardless of whether you file a claim with your insurance provider, retailer or shipping company, she recommends following these steps to report and file a claim:
- Itemize the list of items stolen. "It’s important to assess the total value of items stolen before filing a claim," she says. "Knowing that can help you decide who to file your claim with."
- Compile the evidence. This includes receipts from the vendor, delivery notifications, photos showing the item was delivered and any video footage of the theft.
- Submit your claim in a timely manner. "If you’re filing with your home insurance provider or with a shipping company from whom you bought insurance, adjusters will review your policy, including applicable coverage types, sublimits, scheduled items and deductibles," she says. "Don’t procrastinate, either. A failure to notify the proper channels in a timely fashion can result in your claim being denied."
- Minimize theft risk when ordering high-value items. "Most homeowners insurance policies have limits on the theft of high-value items like high-end electronics, fine art or precious jewelry, so you might not be able to recover your losses fully," Sangameshwar says. "If you’re planning to have these items delivered, opt for more secure options like ship to store, ship to a locker or pickup location or ask your shipping provider to require a signature to receive these deliveries."
ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,545 U.S. consumers ages 18 to 76 from Sept. 20 to 23, 2022. The survey was administered using a nonprobability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.
We defined generations as the following ages in 2022:
- Generation Z: 18 to 25
- Millennial: 26 to 41
- Generation X: 42 to 56
- Baby boomer: 57 to 76