You’ve waited for days, checking the porch regularly to see if the merchandise you’ve ordered arrived. Three to five business days, the company said. When you get the message the package has been delivered, you rush home to find … nothing, a vacant doorway or sidewalk. A little digging, and you realize you’ve been a victim to what one in three Americans experience — package theft.
According to the packaging company Shorr, the majority of Americans — 58 percent — receive three to 10 packages per month, most of them being $101 to $500 in value.
“You see it everywhere,” said Maj. Larry Guyton with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office. “As a society, we’re going away from brick and mortar stores, and more companies are offering free delivery, so people are shopping online more. I think as more retailers get involved, we’ll see more of a rise of theft.”
It’s happening around the country. Of the respondents in Shorr’s study, 41 percent reported having avoided purchasing merchandise online because they feared package theft. More than 60 percent believe online retailers are not doing enough to prevent package theft, with 31 percent believing branded packaging makes theft more likely. While 58 percent agree that shipping companies are doing their part to prevent stealing, 33 percent believe the location of the box is the primary reason package theft is so common.
Nationally, consumers are going on the offense. More than 40 percent have an area not visible to the public where delivery companies can leave packages. At least 35 percent have had a package sent to an address other than their home to prevent theft.
“I’ve seen where people are putting a large container on their porch that’s actually bolted to the house,” Guyton explained. “It has a lid and the container is large enough to place a package in. They leave the lid open and notify the shipping company to put the package in the box and lock it. Having something like that is probably the biggest deterrent.”
Higher-end options look like benches, Guyton said, but have space under the bench for storage.
Amazon recently introduced Amazon Key, which trasmits a temporary passcode to delivery companies, allowing employees to open the door and set the package inside. An interior camera allows the homeowner to monitor the process, and once the code is utilized, it becomes inactive.
Guyton had a word of caution about that and similar programs.
“That gets into electronics and sometimes involves the internet,” he explained. “Things like that are still in the early developmental stages, so there are concerns that hackers could override the system.”
He added, “Sometimes simpler — like a box bolted to the house — is better.’
While Guyton said the crime hasn’t yet permeated Bladen County, he also said it could only be a matter of time, especially in heavily populated areas such as large subdivisions.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.