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How to Stop Porch Pirates: 5 Ways To Prevent Them From Targeting You

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Forget treasure chests and the Caribbean – porch pirates are 2022’s most diligent thieves, lurking around neighborhoods in search of booty left outside your door.

In this post, you’ll find out not only what porch piracy is, but how to stop porch pirates before they make you their next unsuspecting victim.

What Is a Porch Pirate?

‘Porch pirates’ is a term that’s been in use since the early 2010s. Named for their obvious resemblance to their ship-dwelling forefathers, porch piracy  is the practice of haunting residential areas in search of packages dumped on the doorsteps of absent homeowners.

Whether it’s luxury handbags or your favorite takeaway, anything is ripe for the taking, so long as it’s been left in plain sight at the door. And since the onset of social distancing, that’s now more often than not the case.

Captain Jack Sparrow

How to Stop Porch Pirates? 5 Ways to Stop a Porch Thief

Porch pirates know all the tricks in the book, from keys under the mat to packages in the bin. Take these extra precautionary steps to ensure your packages are safe and secure.

1. Install a surveillance system

Surveillance systems – that is, cameras set up on the doorstep, above the porch, or through windows – are how to catch porch pirates red-handed. These often come with a hefty price tag attached, but that isn’t to say there aren’t inexpensive options. 

In fact, some are completely free. AlfredCamera is a free app that turns your old smart device into a security camera.

Simply install the app on two devices and designate one of them as the camera. From the other device, users can enjoy 24/7 live streaming, two-way talk, and even person detection, which instantly notifies the user of any movement originating from a person, in this case, the package thief.

See AlfredCamera in Action. Available to download now for iOS and Android devices.

Recommended reading: Continuous Recording Security Camera: AlfredCamera Launches Latest Feature

Credit: CBS Mornings

2. Require a signature

It’s easy to overlook, especially when you’re in a rush to checkout, but most retailers do provide the option to require a signature upon delivery.

Major logistics companies like UPS, DHL, and FedEx all offer this option. Opt to require a signature and delivery drivers will not leave the package on the doorstep unless someone signs for it, effectively fending off package pirates.

3. Leave with a neighbor

Though signatures are a handy way to avoid porch pirates, for those of us who are regularly out of the house, it can be inconvenient to have our packages bounce back when left unsigned.

Another easy fix is to choose to leave the package with a neighbor you trust and who you know will be at home – just make sure to get their permission beforehand to appease any grumpy neighbors!

4. Use a public locker

Many major online retailers, including Amazon, offer delivery lockers located at specific public sites and stores that can be used as an alternate address.

Use the zip code locator to find one near you, and you can both pick up and return packages at one of these convenient, secure hubs.

5. Set up motion detecting lights

Catch porch pirates like a deer in the headlights – literally – by installing motion detector lights. Motion activates the spotlights to turn on, illuminating any trespassers approaching your property before they reach the porch.

These have been around for a while, meaning they are by now a very affordable way to keep your packages (and home) more secure.

Recommended Reading: A Crash Course In Motion Sensor Cameras

Credit: Ryder Calm Down

3 Things to Avoid to Prevent Package Pirates

When it comes to trying to figure out how to stop porch pirates, a large part of the issue is that they’re very well-acquainted with the regular hiding spots. Avoid these three common mistakes when it comes to leaving a package unattended.

Packages in bins – for whatever reason, many mail carriers and logistics companies allow the option to hide packages in bins. Not only is it kind of unhygienic, but it’s an extremely common (and obvious) place to store packages when someone isn’t home. Don’t put it past a porch thief to dumpster-dive an open recycling bin for lone packages!

Packages under pots or other porch objects – much like bins, upturned plant pots and other objects you might find in or around a porch are among the other places homeowners advise their delivery drivers to leave their purchases. Unfortunately, a terracotta pot on its head isn’t exactly a secure way to store something.

Mailboxes – traditional mailboxes are, to no one’s surprise, highly insecure. Newer options with hardy exteriors and lock systems are significantly more adept at storing packages until your arrival. Simply put, valuable packages are better off being sent to public lockers or left with your neighbors than for them to sit in an unattended old mailbox all day.

Credit: Impossible Science

If unfortunately, your package has indeed been stolen, here is what you should do

From Ship to Porch

The modern luxury of overnight shipping and instant food deliveries comes hand-in-hand with the increasing nuisance of porch pirates.

Alarmingly, around 14% of Americans claim to have been victims of porch pirates in 2020 – that’s about 35.5 million people and some $5 billion worth of goods being stolen – while over a third of Americans have had a package stolen from outside their home at least once in their lives.

Unsurprisingly, porch pirates in 2022 are far more active than a decade ago, with online deliveries much more likely to contain valuable booty – at the height of the pandemic, almost 40% of all our purchases were made online.

The popularity of online shopping has steadily risen over the last ten years, and it’s a trend that’s only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are now approximately 2.14 billion digital buyers around the world, compared to 1.92 billion in 2019.

This means that year on year, there are millions more deliveries being made to homes across the globe (and therefore ample opportunities for porch pirates to strike).

In a way, the porch pirate phenomenon mirrors our contemporary habits and expectations as consumers. It draws attention to the new issues posed by increased spending, exponentially faster shipping, and work schedules that  keep us out of the house all day.

Recommended Reading: Apartment Security 101: DIY, Deadbolts, & Smart Devices


What do you do if you see a pirate on a porch?

With security camera systems like AlfredCamera, users are able to communicate in real time with whoever is on the other side of the ‘surveillance’ camera. Not to mention, AlfredCamera will instantly notify you of any movement it detects. In most cases, this will deter any unwanted visitors from the porch. If the person you suspect is trying to steal from the porch persists, immediately call the police. 

Where did the term porch pirate come from?

‘Porch pirate’ references the pirates of a bygone era, who would infiltrate naval fleets and steal whatever they could find. ‘Porch pirates’ was first posted to Urban Dictionary in 2011 and first appeared on Twitter the same year.

How common are porch pirates?

With estimates suggesting that as much as a third of all Americans have been the victim of porch piracy, it is very common. Naturally, the holiday season is associated with increased courier services and extra spending, so consumers would be wise to exercise particular caution with the onset of winter.

How do you stop porch pirates?

There are a number of precautions homeowners can take to deter porch pirates, like downloading a ‘fake camera’ surveillance system like AlfredCamera or installing motion detector lights. Both of these methods are useful because they give the impression that someone is at home, even if they are not. Otherwise, it may be worth considering having packages delivered to a locker or a neighbor.


With the holiday season underway, it’s wise to combine a number of logical solutions, like setting up motion detecting lights above the porch as well as installing a home security system like AlfredCamera, since this will not only deter porch pirates but ensure that homeowners are able to follow up thefts with footage in the unfortunate event that something does get stolen.

AlfredCamera has already helped over 40 million users across the globe to protect their possessions and their homes. Not only can users see and hear everything the linked device views in real-time, but they can also use it to speak to whoever is on the other side of the camera – a brilliant way to deter would-be home invaders.

Recommended reading: Bad Neighborhoods: What Are Your Safety And Security Options?  

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