While this is often called the season of giving, for porch pirates, holiday deliveries are there for the taking.
According to Security.org, an estimated 49 million Americans have had a package stolen in the past 12 months.
“Trends this year have been as it has been in previous years since COVID hit and that more people are doing things online, so the number of packages have increased exponentially,” said Jane Kostiw, owner of two UPS Store locations on the Central Coast.
“As online shopping increases, theft increases. The two are correlated,” said Mike Smith, State Farm Insurance Agent.
Smith says package theft is a bigger problem than people may realize.
“The last statistic that I read was 30-50% of Americans have experienced that, and it's probably actually a little bit more,” he said.
To protect against porch pirates, Kostiw says people can have their packages sent to the store or plan around the delivery time.
“If you can't be there, your best line of defense is to have someone who is going to be able to come from next door to grab that package off the porch before anyone else notices it's available for pickup,” she said.
“If the package is going to be delivered, make sure it's at a safe location -- so somewhere where it's locked. Or, you can give your delivery driver instructions -- put it somewhere where it's hidden. Those are kind of the main ways," Smith added. "You can also get a camera out front of your home, one of those door cameras or a Ring camera.”
“Another option is to change the shipping address to your place of business, your workplace,” said Det. Sgt. Anthony Hernandez, Pismo Beach Police Department.
Hernandez says few people actually report package thefts to police.
“I would say that our package thieves would probably be underreported. Most of the time folks don't understand that reporting the theft to law enforcement is helpful in identifying specific types of trends and things like that,” he said, adding that surveillance video is helpful in identifying suspected thieves.
You can also report package theft to your insurance agent, according to State Farm. However, Smith says it would be subject to your deductible, so the theft would have to be quite large to be relevant.
Another suggestion to avoid porch pirates is to shop locally so as to minimize the risk of delivery theft altogether.