Another holiday season is rapidly approaching here in the United States, and it promises to be even busier than last year as an improving economy and increased consumer confidence spur greater spending and bigger profits for retailers everywhere. What’s more, an ever increasing number of holiday shoppers are purchasing their gifts online. The National Retail Federation predicts that 50 percent or more of all holiday spending will be done on digital channels this year. According to Matt Lawson, director of performance ads marketing for Google, fully 30 percent of those purchases will be made on a smartphone—a 64 percent increase over 2014.
Unfortunately, the convenience of online shopping comes with a significant threat—package theft.Although data is not available on how many packages are stolen each year, both FedEx and UPS report that the number increases between December 1 and December 24th, and some law enforcement officials are already reporting a 50 percent increase in package theft over last year. Given the total number of deliveries—UPS estimates that it will deliver 585 million packages in December, 34 million of them on December 22nd alone, the overall incidence is negligible. Nevertheless, it can be heartbreaking if it happens to you.
Strategies to Prevent Package Theft
Both UPS and Fed Ex offer a number of tips — and some helpful tools – to help consumers discourage “porch pirates” — thieves who follow delivery trucks and steal packages as they are left on customer’s doorsteps. For example, FedEx offers a free service, Delivery Manager, which allows users to customize delivery options.UPS offers a similar option with its free service, UPS My Choice. Somechoices offered by both services include:
- Have packages delivered to an alternate location. A majority of package thefts happen during the day, when customers are at work or school. If you know you will not be home to accept a delivery, have it sent to your workplace or to an alternate address. Additionally, both UPS and FedEx allow you to have packages held at a local office for pick up.
- Give specific instructions for delivery: Both FedEx and UPS allow customers to give specific instructions to drivers about where to put deliveries, such as at the back door or behind a potted plant.
- Ask the driver to ring the bell: Many delivery drivers do thisautomatically when leaving a package at your door, but it doesn’t hurt to make a special request.
- Get alerts via email, text or automated voice call:Both UPS and Fed Ex will, upon request, provide advance notice of when your package will arrive and send a notice when it has been delivered to your door.
- Customize delivery time: Both Fed Ex and UPS offer a variety of options for customized delivery. For example, FedEx Delivery Manager allows customers to request a specific delivery date and time or reroute packages in transit for an additional fee (charges vary depending on delivery location and package weight.) Additionally, premium members of UPS My Choice ($40 annual fee) can reroute an unlimited number of packages and request alternate delivery dates at no additional cost. The service also offers two free customized delivery windows each year, and you can add more for just $8 each.
Additionally, video surveillance cameras may help catch porch pirates in the act. In November 2015, Los Angeles law enforcement officers were led to the home of a “porch pirate” who was videotaped stealing packages from a home and loading them into a U-Haul truck. Police tracked the license plate captured on the video and discovered thousands of dollars of stolen items in the thief’s home.
Same Day Delivery May End Package Theft
If you shop at Amazon.com and live in one of 16 metropolitan areas**the online giantcan alleviate your delivery worries with same-day or next-day delivery. You must be an Amazon Prime member ($99 a year after 30 day free trial) to use the service, which promises delivery by 9 p.m. on all orders placed by 12 noon and early morning delivery for orders placed later in the day. Orders over $35 ship for free; orders for less than that amount incur a $5 flat fee.
In addition, shoppers in some areas of the United States can now use the Amazon’s Prime Now app, which offers one or two-hour delivery on thousands of items for a nominal fee.
Technology Adds a New Dimension to Preventing Package Theft
Most delivery services stop delivering at 8 p.m., but a new service, Doorman, promises to bring your packages to your door in the evening when you’re actually at home. The brainchild of CEO Zander Adell, Doorman lets you order packages online and have them delivered to a Doorman storage facility, where they are held until you schedule delivery using the Doorman app. Two-hour delivery windows are available between 6 p.m. and midnight, seven days a week, for a flat per-delivery charge of $3.99, or you can choose a monthly membership ($19.99 to $29.99) and receive unlimited deliveries at no additional charge. The service is only available in Chicago, New York and San Francisco as of December 2015.
Of course, even the most conscientious consumer can become the victim of package theft. That’s why everyone should be protected with insurance that covers them in the event a valuable item disappears. Whether you own or rent your home, our experienced agents can design an insurance package tailored to your individual needs. Just call us at 516-292-3780, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6.p.m., to schedule an appointment, or request a free consultation online now.
** New York City, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Orlando, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma, Chicago, Indianapolis, Dallas/ Fort Worth, Phoenix