The holiday season is long gone and among its gifts was a wariness of “porch pirates.” After some national media attention, it’s a crime in the spotlight.
Darrel Hildebrant, the Rochester Police Department crime prevention specialist, says package theft is on the rise.
Avast, though, mateys, thar be ways to scuttle them.
Vigilance is crucial. Step one: Track your package shipment progress online. Most orders come with a tracking number. If you can’t be around for the delivery, try to pre-arrange for someone else to keep a watch out for you. Or, since you’ve probably got a good idea of when your mail or deliveries arrive each day, have someone come over around then.
If you don’t trust those methods, have the package delivered to a more secure address — your workplace or a neighbor’s home, if that works.
As always, technology promises a solution. Make like pirate victim Nick Dibble, who had a shipment of more than 60 disposable diapers, valued at $40, stolen from his porch in January. The theft was captured by his doorbell camera. Cams of that type cost from about $100 to several thousand dollars. Hildebrant recommends adding a sign to alert potential crooks to the fact that they’re on candid camera.
But what’s the most foolproof way to stop porch pirates? Shop local.
Before logging onto eBay for obscure action figures or comic books, check out unique shops near home. Instead of ordering flowers online, go to a local floral shop and smell the roses for yourself.
The benefits of shopping local go far beyond avoiding package theft.
Spend dollars locally and they’ll stay local, helping your friends and neighbors, as well as your own family.
Then there’s the environmental argument.
Shopping local avoids the mountains of cardboard boxes and packaging and saves energy. Studies have shown that even when people are heavy e-commerce users, they still spend about as much time driving to and from brick-and-mortar locations.
For those occasions when you have to shop online, there are devices such as the Original Porch Pirate Bag, in which your delivered packages are locked and attached to the front door, mailbox post or whatever. Some versions even come in ballistic-proof material.
You’ll still want to get to the bag before Captain Hook does, though.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ROCHESTER POST-BULLETIN