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Porch piracy is on the rise, so take measures to keep your packages safe

Protect yourself from being among the one in

Protect yourself from being among the one in five online shoppers who reported having a package stolen from outside their home in the past year. Credit: Alicia Neuner

If you think the Grinch doesn’t include stops on Long Island, wake up -- Whoville is everywhere. Porch pirates will be on the prowl this holiday season combing neighborhoods for packages to swipe from doorsteps.

“We’re seeing an increase in porch pirates. It’s been increasing every year,” said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun with the public information office of the Nassau County Police Department.

According to a new e-commerce study by Edison, New Jersey-based logistics company Dotcom Distribution, one in five of the more than 1,200 online shoppers polled reported having a package stolen from outside their home in the past year. A 2017 report by InsuranceQuotes Inc. found that 26 million Americans had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep, up from 23 million in 2015.

It’s not surprising then, that 49 percent of the more than 1,200 respondents to a survey conducted by YouGov for Canary, a Manhattan smart-home security company, said they are concerned about becoming victims to porch pirates this year.

But give fear no place in such a festive season. There’s plenty you can do to protect your packages.

Retrieve your goods

Bayville resident and CEO of Dotcom Distribution Maria Haggerty said: “Many retailers offer the opportunity to buy online and pick up in store. Picking up your item(s) when your schedule permits, rather than letting a package sit on your porch unsupervised, is a smart option, especially with high-value items.”

Be vigilant

LeBrun shares some of the Nassau County Police Department’s advice. When selecting shipping options, choose one that requires you to sign for delivery. In most cases, if you aren’t at home when a delivery is attempted, you can either pick up your packages in person or schedule a delivery for a time when you are able to receive it. Another strategy is to track your delivery online. Check your package’s delivery status, its estimated delivery time and try to be home when it arrives. You could leave a note asking the delivery service to leave the package with a trusted neighbor.

A Suffolk County Police spokeswoman advised having your packages delivered to your place of employment. However, be sure that squares with company policy.

Take advantage of security tools

There are package-receiving centers where your belongings can be delivered and stored until you pick them up.  Steven Weisman, attorney and author of "The Truth About Avoiding Scams," said, “Go Locker is one such popular service.” A similar service with many outposts on Long Island is Amazon Hub Locker.

What other defenses does he advise? “The Amazon Key Home Kit, available to Amazon Prime customers, enables you to use an app to remotely unlock your home to permit a delivery." The kit, around $300, also includes a security camera that allows you to watch the entire delivery process.

More DIY options

No, you probably don’t want to sit on the porch with a shotgun, so explore options like Ring doorbells and cameras that allow you to monitor your property from afar if you’re not there to receive a package.

Jacob Dayan, co-founder of FinancePal.com, has been a victim of porch theft. It’s not likely to happen again. “We got a package delivery box. A courier enters a code to access it. We have had no further package thefts since this investment.”

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