Avoid porch pirates: How to prevent stolen packages from Amazon, UPS and more

Close-up of Amazon Prime package outdoors in an office park
(Image credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

The holiday season is here, which means an inevitable surge of deliveries to our doorsteps. It's also peak time for "porch pirates," or thieves ready to strike, and find the next opportunity to swipe our packages.  As our festive, online purchases begin to arrive, you might be wondering how to prevent stolen packages from Amazon, UPS and other major deliverers. 

Don't fall victim to the package theft epidemic. In any case, these are measures you can take now to save the headache of filing lost holiday package claims, and ruining your Christmas.

Avoid stolen packages from Amazon with Amazon Key

There are a couple of methods to keep your Amazon packages safe. If you're an Amazon Prime member, chances are you have packages delivered regularly. In which case you might consider investing in Amazon Key.

Amazon Key is a decent solution for having Amazon Prime shipments dropped right inside your front door, garage or car trunk. The system consists of a smart lock and the Amazon Cloud Cam security camera, which ends up costing about $300. 

When the Amazon driver approaches your house with the package, the Amazon Key app unlocks your door or trunk while a camera begins recording the drop off. The app then requires the driver to confirm that the entrance has been relocked before departure.

Avoid stolen packages from Amazon with Amazon Day and Amazon Hub Locker

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you'd rather not purchase additional tech to protect your packages, you can use an Amazon delivery feature called Amazon Day. As long as you're a Prime Member, you can use Amazon Day to select a specific day you want your package delivered. That way you can plan to be home to pick up your package in person. 

Amazon Hub Locker is also a secure, self-service kiosk that lets you pick up your package at a place and time that's convenient for you. Available in over 900 cities, Amazon Hub Locker can be accessed in various grocery stores, malls and even in apartments.

In addition, Amazon Wholefoods offers convenient delivery and pickup of Whole Foods Market items for Prime members. You would need to pay a service fee, but it gives you the piece of mind of not having stolen packages. 

Use a video doorbell to stop porch pirates

Ring video doorbell Pro

(Image credit: Ring)

Among the best video doorbells, a few models can actually detect when packages are on your doorstep, so you know to pick them up. Among Ring video doorbells, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 ($99) and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 ($249) can detect packages. The former can be wired or run off battery power, while the latter is battery-powered only. However, there are additional differences between the two; check out our Ring Video Doorbell vs. Ring Pro for greater detail.

The Google Nest Hello can not only tell you when a package has arrived, but will also tell you when a package has been removed, too. Alternatively, if you prefer a battery-operated doorbell, the Google Nest Doorbell (battery) is highly rated, but its battery is not removable. 

We also like the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell for its package detection, great video quality and clear audio. 

While a porch pirate might still nab your delivery, you can use the footage captured from the doorbell to identify the bad actor. In order to get the most out of your video doorbells, some require a monthly cloud subscription, so you have access to advanced features and footage. While others simply store your footage on a local hard drive, without a subscription. 

Additional ways to prevent stolen packages

There are also Smart Delivery Boxes that will automatically lock and secure your packages. Once the delivery man opens it to deposit a package, the box will automatically lock once closed, until you arrive home. Then you would need to unlock with a companion app or keypad. While these can be quite costly, they will ensure nothing gets swiped off your porch, saving you money in the long-run.

Of course, there are old fashioned means to prevent your packages from being stolen. Consider having your goods delivered to your work office, or to a trustworthy person you know will be home. You can also request in your order notes that your package be signed for upon delivery. That way the courier will have to ring your doorbell and meet your, rather than dump the package at your door and dip. 

Additionally, you can request that the deliveryman leave your package out of plain sight. If you have a fake plant or hidden nook near your door, leave an order note with clear directions for drop off.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.