Where’s Package Theft a Problem?

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Package theft is a growing problem, and we talk about it a lot…It’s kind of our thing. One concern we have is that there isn’t much good data about it. Certainly, carriers like UPS and FedEx must keep track of stolen package claims they receive, but they’re not very open with that information (not a surprise, really). Also, various police departments, the Department of Justice, and the FBI keep track of crime rates, and do create distinctions in their data between theft/larceny and robberies (the difference being the use or threat of force), but package theft is clumped in with all theft. That being said, we can make educated guesses about where package theft might be higher based on the nature of the crime. So, let’s get to it.

Package theft is a crime of opportunity. This means it is a crime that occurs if the opportunity presents itself. If people didn’t leave packages unattended, there wouldn’t be the opportunity, and as a result, there wouldn’t be any package theft. Kind of obvious, I know…but it’s important. If we can think about where the opportunity is, we can make good guesses about where package theft rates will be higher.

Package theft requires there to be packages (duh…). This means package theft is more likely in areas where people order lots of stuff online. This means areas, where people have some disposable income, are probably going to be better targets for porch pirates. There’s a limit here, though. If the area is wealthy enough then there’s probably a better chance that people will have security systems and gates and even lockboxes for deliveries. Probably not universally true, but upper-middle-class neighborhoods probably are a more likely target for package theft than gated communities (unless the porch pirate lives inside…).

Package theft also requires packages to be left outside, unattended and accessible. Many apartment buildings, particularly fancier ones, prevent this by having a front desk where carriers can leave packages. So, urban settings with high concentration of higher end apartments likely have lower incidence of package theft (a side effect of gentrification?). On the other hand, the middle-class suburbs present a prime target. Most residents live in single family homes and often have open porches. There, it becomes really easy for someone to casually stroll up to the porch and then disappear before anyone notices (unless there’s that nosey neighbor or a vigilant neighborhood watch).

Also, for packages to be left outside, the receiver either needs to sign a release in advance, or the FedEx or UPS driver must feel sufficiently comfortable in the neighborhood to leave the package. This means, finally, that package theft is probably unlikely in neighborhoods that seem less safe.

These factors together give us a pretty good educated guess as to where package theft would be high. The ‘burbs. Middle-class suburbs would probably have the highest rate of package theft. It’s easy to imagine the convergence of all the factors that create the package theft opportunity in those neighborhoods. If you live in one, it might be worth considering investing in a Package Guard to unobtrusively keep your packages safe.

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Mike G

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