The holidays are just around the corner. Unfortunately, that also means it’s prime time for so-called porch pirates—those burglars who steal packages left on porches or at front doors. But, there’s a way to fight back. Consumer Reports evaluates lots of home security products—including video doorbells, package delivery boxes, and even floodlights with cameras—all of which can help keep your porch and your home secure this holiday season and beyond.
Consumer Reports says there are several ways to keep your packages and home more secure. Start with a package delivery box. Just as the name sounds, it’s a big box that you put on your porch that delivery people can drop packages into. It’s a great option if you can get delivery people to use it, but that can vary dramatically. Some other drawbacks: Prices start around $150, and they take up some space.
A better option is a battery-powered video doorbell that can monitor your entryway and send you an alert when a package is delivered. It’s easy to install, with no complex or intimidating wiring, and you can get a great one that costs around $100 or less. Consider the $100 Ring Video Doorbell home security camera. A $3 monthly subscription to a Ring Protect plan is required for package alerts.
To extend security beyond your front door, Consumer Reports says to consider adding or upgrading floodlights. Testers tried three floodlight security cameras—really just security cameras that double as floodlights—outside Consumer Reports' labs. One nice thing about floodlights is that, on most homes, they’re in spots that are ideal spaces for cameras. And they are hard-wired for power, so you never have to worry about recharging a battery.
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And you can easily swap out your existing floodlights with the $180 Eufy, which allows you to store recordings locally on the camera itself. That allows you to skip that monthly cloud storage fee, too.
All three of the floodlights offer as much lighting as regular floodlights and clear and crisp video monitoring. You’ll get a camera, floodlight, and siren in one package. And as a bonus, you can control your floodlight from your phone, smart speaker, and even smart TV.
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Check with neighbors. Sometimes, your package may not be stolen at all, just simply at the wrong address. Before filing a report or contacting the sender, check with your neighbors and see if the delivery service may have dropped off your package at the wrong address. Many delivery companies will take pictures of your package in the designated location - be sure to check for the photo and verify it is at the right spot.
Don't leave unattended packages. When possible, do not leave delivered packages unattended for long periods. If you are expecting a package, attempt to schedule its delivery when you know you will be home. Ask your neighbors if they would mind holding on to packages delivered if you plan to be gone for an extended time during the holidays.
Ship to store. If purchasing an item from a retailer that has a physical location near your home, consider shipping it there instead. Retailers will require proof of purchase or identification before releasing packages they have received, and this is a sure way to avoid porch pirates.
Use a security camera. Installing a home security system with cameras or simply a camera-enabled doorbell is a great way to deter package theft, especially when highly visible. Consider including a sign that specifically states that the residence is under surveillance. Even if a package is stolen from your porch, the video evidence will help law enforcement track down the thieves.
Require a signature. Many delivery companies include the option to require a signature before leaving a package, letting you take physical possession of the item as soon as it is delivered. While this option works well for those who are often at home, especially for expensive items, it may create difficulties in receiving packages if your schedule and the delivery service are different. Be sure to check with the delivery company on their policy for packages that are not signed for; they may return it to the sender after a certain number of attempts.
Consider a package receiving service. Some major retailers, such as Amazon, offer secure package receiving locations away from your home that you can access with a key or code. Some independent businesses also specialize in this service, allowing you to designate a different delivery location for your packages and the ability to pick them up on your way home.
If you fear that your package has been stolen, file a report with your local police department and the delivery company. Depending on which delivery service you use, they may offer insurance or other policies to reimburse you for your losses.