You ordered the perfect gift, you’ve tracked its shipping status in anticipation of its arrival, but you come home from work on delivery day to find the package mysteriously absent from your doorstep. Your package may have been stolen. Now what?
If a Package is Taken From Your Porch, Who is Responsible?
There is a dramatic increase in packages delivered to homes around the holidays thanks to the explosive rise of online retailers such as Amazon. These online retailers often deliver packages to homes when the residents are at work.
With the holiday season upon us, more and more packages are being reported as missing from front porches all around the country. According to recent survey published by Comcast, 31% of Americans have experienced package theft at some point, while a 2017 study by InsuranceQuotes found that 25.9 million Americans have had their packages stolen during the holiday season alone.
Thieves take advantage of the pile of unprotected parcels at your door by swiping them right from your front porch. Since porches often lack any security measures, criminals can get away scot-free with package theft. What can be done, then, to remedy the situation?
Read on to find out how to get reimbursed for your stolen item or have a new one shipped to you.
How to Handle a Package Theft
Verify that the package was delivered
The first step you need to take if you think someone stole your package is to track your shipment. If you haven’t been following the tracking updates closely and are only counting on the original estimated delivery date, you may have missed some important updates.
When a retailer ships your package to you, they typically send a shipping confirmation email with a tracking number. You can use that tracking number to check the status of your shipment along the way through the shipping company’s website.
Packages are often delayed for one reason or another, especially in the winter time with snow and inclement weather preventing trucks from reaching or departing fulfillment centers and post offices. Double check your tracking number to verify that your package was indeed delivered on this date.
Additionally, it is important to make sure that you didn’t inadvertently send the package to the wrong address. Maybe you just moved, and the retailer had your old address stored in their system.
After you have verified that the package was delivered and it went to the correct address, it is time to investigate further before contacting the delivery service.
First, check with your neighbors to make sure that the delivery driver didn’t mistakenly drop it off at the wrong door. This happens more often than you would think.
Also, make sure that a concerned neighbor didn’t grab it off your porch for you as a precaution because they knew you weren’t home to get it yet or they didn’t want the package sitting out in inclement weather.
Save yourself the time and trouble of calling customer service only to realize that your package was with your next door neighbor all along.
Contact the seller
If you believe that your package was taken from your porch and your neighbors have no information on the package’s whereabouts, it is time to reach out to the retailer that you bought the item from.
Every retailer has a different policy when it comes to situations like these, but most are sympathetic to the situation and will refund or replace the stolen item for you.
Amazon, for example, covers most stolen packages with their A-to-Z Protection. If your item was purchased through one of their retail partners, known as Amazon Sellers, you may have to reach out to the third party first to try to resolve the situation.
In most cases, you should be able to work it out with the seller and they will provide you with a replacement item. However, if the retailer refuses to assist you, you may need to file a claim with the shipping company.
File a claim with the shipping company
If the retailer who you purchased the item from denies any responsibility for the missing package and wants to lay blame on the shipping company, you can file a claim with the shipping company. All major delivery services provide a claims reporting service via their website or by calling their customer service department.
If all else fails, you can check with your credit card company to see if they offer purchase protection. There are many stipulations with these policies, so be sure to get clarity about your card’s policies to see if the company will cover stolen packages.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Packages
If you have ever experienced a package stolen from your porch, you know how frustrating it can be. It is especially exasperating if you have had to jump through hoops in the claims process to remedy the situation.
Consider these tips for protecting your packages this holiday season:
- Purchase package insurance for high-ticket items. For instance, if you are buying electronics like a new laptop, it is worth the extra money to purchase the optional insurance to ensure that you are covered should the laptop go missing. Insurance is usually purchased either through the retailer or the shipping company.
- Plan to be at home when the package arrives. This is the ideal scenario, although we understand it is not always possible to be home at the time of delivery.
Perhaps ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out for the delivery and secure your package until you get home, or have the package delivered somewhere where you know a person is present to accept it. If you aren’t familiar with any of your neighbors yet, send the packages to your workplace.
- Request that your package be left at the Post Office or UPS store for pick up. This way, you can securely pick up your package when you have the time. No need to worry about thieves raiding your porch while you are away.
In major cities, Amazon also offers a number of designated package pickup locations calledAmazon Lockers, which will hold your item safely until you arrive. To retrieve your package, you need only enter in your special code at the machine or scan your smartphone.
- Get a lockbox. These reinforced containers are protected by a lock that can only be accessed by delivery drivers if they have a package that is addressed to you and scheduled for delivery on that day. BoxLock is one of the most well-known companies that create smart padlocks for you to do just that.
- Install a security camera. Cameras alone can sometimes deter thieves from encroaching upon your property, though in many cases thieves will wear hoodies, sunglasses, or use some kind of cloth to make their face impossible to recognize. One particular camera designed to watch your porch is the Skybell Video Doorbell, a doorbell that automatically detects people who approach your door and notifies you through your smartphone so you can verify the person’s identity.
- Require signature on delivery. When ordering or shipping expensive items, require that the package be signed for, so that only the designated recipient can pick up the package. While this also adds on an extra fee, that extra verification step goes a long way in making sure your item doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
We hope that we have provided some useful tips for what to do if your package is stolen, and for preventing such situations in the future.