BBB Hints of Safe Holiday Package Receiving

By Shannon Boyle
BBB content marketing specialist

BOSTON — The holiday season is in full swing and online shoppers need to be on alert for “porch pirates: — people who steal packages from homeowners. In a recent study, nearly 26 million Americans reported holiday packages being stolen from their front porch or doorstep.

Last year, Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items to Prime members, prompting a packaging business to analyze Google search trends to determine where package theft is more concentrated. Boston, Mass., is fourth on the list of the most prone cities to so-called porch pirates. But even rural Maine communities are not immune.
Although certain crimes occur more often around the holidays, the USPS and Consumer Reports have some tips on keeping packages safe from thieves:
* Don’t leave delivered packages unattended. You wouldn’t leave $500 sitting outside your house overnight so don’t leave your packages unattended for long periods of time. Pay attention to online tracking; if the company says it was delivered but it’s not at your house report it.
* Use motion detecting lights and camera systems to fend off would-be thieves.
* Leaving town? Have your mail held at the post office. Once you return you can pick everything up or request it be delivered to your home.
* Customize the delivery. If you know the package is going to be larger than the mailbox, authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified out-of-sight location. You can also request pick-up at their facility.
* Secure the shipment. Signature confirmations ensure that the package ends up in the right hards. Register your most valuable packages so special care and documentation is used every step of the way.
* Ship your packages to where you are, not where you aren’t. Spend all day at work? Talk to your boss about having packages delivered to your workplace instead of your home address.
* Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Some thieves follow delivery trucks waiting for the opportune time to steal packages. If you notice something out of place in your neighborhood, report it to the proper authorities with specific details.
* Plan with neighbors to move any packages inside their home for safekeeping until you arrive home at night.
If you or someone you know has been affected by stolen packages, report it to BBB Scam Tracker to help warn others. For more holiday tips, check out the BBB Holiday Guide at or follow BBB on social media.