With the holidays around the corner and COVID-19 limiting some in-person browsing, the last couple of years has seen a boom in online shopping. Unfortunately, with more parcels being delivered, Canadians have seen an increase in package theft directly from their doorsteps. The terms “porch pirates” or “box bandits” refer to individuals who go house-to-house with the sole purpose of stealing unattended packages.

“Ensuring a safe delivery makes sense year-round, but we know that would-be thieves are especially keen during the holiday season as there is an increase of purchases. Be sure to take some simple precautions to ensure your purchases make it to the right person this holiday,” says OPP Insp. Commander, Angie McCollum, Community Safety Services. Porch pirates are known to linger on residential streets with high-delivery traffic or in some cases, even follow delivery trucks directly to their destinations.

At isure, we recognize that the holidays are a time for giving and spending time with loved ones. Whether it’s that long-awaited PlayStation or the latest iPhone, we want to ensure that your Christmas presents and other valued packages are delivered safely and into the right hands. According to FedEx, a 2019 survey showed that 70% of Canadian online shoppers worry about package theft, and with good reason. That’s why we’ve done the research for you and gathered tips to help better protect your deliveries from porch pirates.

1. Install a doorbell camera

This tip may seem self-explanatory, but not everyone has hopped on the Ring or Nest doorbell train just yet. Doorbells with video recording capabilities have only recently become popular, especially because COVID-19 has decreased in-store shopping and upped online purchases and deliveries. However, even with these added security measures, people have still experienced theft by porch pirates on camera while they are out of the house. We suggest purchasing a doorbell with a microphone for the added function of being able to speak with someone who is approaching your doorstep. Tell a delivery person where to conceal a package or scare off a potential thief by telling them they’ve been recorded and authorities are on their way. Overall, a video doorbell provides the peace of mind that a traditional doorbell simply can’t offer. The Ring doorbell has models starting at $99, and the Google Nest Hello doorbell retails for $299.

2. Track packages or request a signature on delivery

Many delivery services have made tracking your packages a breeze. Track the status of your package and ensure you are home when the delivery is scheduled to arrive. Alternatively, you can request that a signature be required in order for FedEx or UPS to drop off your packages. This will allow a package to be delivered only if there is someone home to sign for it, otherwise, it will be shipped out in another attempt at a later date or brought to a pick-up destination close to home. Tip: FedEx now offers FedEx Delivery Manager – a free tool that allows recipients to view a list of all incoming FedEx deliveries with updated tracking notifications via email or text and the option to redirect packages to a secure retail location for pickup. UPS users have access to the UPS My Choice option, where a member can receive a text or email updates, provide delivery instructions to their UPS driver or redirect packages if necessary.

3. Ship packages to a secure pick-up destination

Many companies have realized that the increase in package theft has become a very real issue for most Canadians. As a result, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, delivery companies, and Canada Post (FlexDelivery) now provide the option to safely pick up your package directly. Some online retailers provide the alternate pickup location option at checkout. If you’re unsure of what your nearest option is, simply call your nearest pharmacy or post office to check availability. Additionally, if you’re ordering through Amazon, they provide an option to find the nearest Locker near you – a secure and convenient self-service kiosk with no additional cost to use and extended operating hours. To find an Amazon Locker near you, visit amazon.ca.

4. Ship packages to your office or workplace

If all else fails, you can always have your packages shipped to your workplace after checking with your employer, of course. Most deliveries go out during office hours, so you can ease your paranoia by having packages shipped directly to your office. That way, you know that you’ll be available to sign for it and that the parcel will end up directly in your hands.

5. Watch for any unordinary or suspicious behavior

Although many people have been working remotely from home, not everyone has that option. While you may not be able to monitor your house 24/7, it is helpful to be aware of your surroundings before leaving for work in the morning. Take a look around on your street. Are there any unfamiliar faces or suspicious vehicles lurking around? If you see someone parked in their car observing the street or watching your every move, it would be best to contact your local police. Many porch pirates will target areas that they’re familiar with or neighbourhoods that are known to have reoccurring deliveries.

6. Ask a trusted neighbour for help

If you have a trusted neighbour or friend that you know is home during the day, the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) suggests that you ask them to help you out. Either have the package delivered directly to their doorstep or ask them to swing by and hold on to the item once you’ve been notified of the delivery.

7. Consider purchasing a porch lock box

Although costly, it may be worth investing in a porch lock box if your packages are being stolen often. Danby Parcel Guard and The Porch Pod are examples of smart package safes that protect your deliveries from being tampered with and from outdoor weather conditions.

8. Utilize the curbside pickup option at checkout when possible

Since COVID-19 began, most retailers implemented the option of contactless curbside pickups, such as Hudson’s Bay, Best Buy, and other well-known locations. Simply place your order as you normally would and pick it up directly from the store once it’s ready.

Package theft is the last thing you want to deal with during the holiday season. We at isure believe that in following these necessary safety measures, you can reduce or eliminate the risk of package theft completely. We hope that these tips provide you with that much-needed peace of mind and help to keep you and your expected deliveries safe and secure.

Now that you’ve ensured the safe recovery of your online purchases, be sure to protect the things you value most with proper insurance coverage. Whether you require home, condo, or tenants insurance, isure offers the widest range of coverage options in the market. Speak to an isure broker today for the best coverage, value, and advice.

Wishing you a Happy Holidays and theft-free online shopping experience!

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