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Watch out for porch pirates this holiday season: BBB

The Better Business Bureau has some tips to help keep your packages safe from porch pirates
Package delivery
The Better Business Bureau is warning British Columbians to keep an eye out for "porch pirates." Jennifer J Taylor/Getty Images photo

The Better Business Bureau is warning British Columbians to keep an eye out for “porch pirates” this holiday season.

Porch pirates are thieves who steal packages from someone’s front doorstep.

The BBB said it is receiving reports from online shoppers who thought they were scammed by a retailer, only to discover that their packages had been swiped by porch pirates.

Meanwhile, a FedEx survey released last month found that one in three online shoppers have already experienced package theft this year, up from one in four in 2019.

“Do not run the risk of leaving your packages unattended, even if it’s just for a short period of time,” said Karla Laird, the BBB’s manager for community and public relations.

“Porch pirates target affluent and/or suburban neighbourhoods as well as apartment buildings where they notice large volumes of packages being delivered on a daily basis.”

Laird added that often, the porch pirates will drive behind branded delivery vehicles to try to capitalize on opportunities where packages are left on doorsteps.

“Pretending to be delivery drivers, sometimes wearing caps and vests, they easily walk up to people’s front doors and move packages within minutes of them being dropped off.”

The BBB has shared the following tips to help avoid having your packages stolen:

  • Take advantage of online tracking services offered by retailers. Some retailers have updated their tracking information to let recipients know the time window in which their packages may be delivered. If so, make sure someone is around to collect the delivery. If the company says the package was delivered but it is nowhere to be found, report it.
  • Monitor the front door. If you have a home security camera system, make sure it captures activity at your front door and mailbox. If you catch any mail thieves in the act, save the video and alert law enforcement. The thieves may be targeting your neighbourhood and video surveillance can be very helpful in preventing these crimes.
  • Customize the delivery. If you know the package is going to be larger than the mailbox, authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified out-of-sight location. A safer solution is to request pick-up at their facility.
  • Secure the shipment. Signature confirmations ensure that the package ends up in the right hands. Register your most valuable packages so special care and documentation is used every step of the way. Ship your packages to where you are, not where you aren’t.
  • Talk to your employer. If you are working in the office and will not be home to collect your packages, ask if they can allow you to have them delivered there instead.
  • Watch for suspicious activity. If you notice something out of place in your neighbourhood, provide a detailed report to law enforcement.