With the startling rise of e-commerce, billions of packages are now being delivered annually to doorsteps around the world. While this obviously spells convenience for consumers, it also entails a much darker underbelly; the stark and inevitable rise of parcel theft.
Homebuilders and community managers are aware of this problem, so what can they do to attempt to deter criminals and take care of our neighborhoods? What makes one residence more theft-prone than another? The answers to these questions are multifaceted and we’ll dive deeply into each in this article. Without any further ado, let’s get started!
Parcel Theft Facts and Statistics
If you’ve spent any time watching videos on the internet, you’ve probably encountered “porch pirate” videos. Like most viral videos involving criminal activity, they usually feature some buffoonish thief, foiled in some humorous way by either an act of crafty anticipation on behalf of a homeowner or through the intervention of some vigilant guard animal.
While these clips are undeniably entertaining, they don’t paint an accurate picture of parcel theft.
In the United States, the vast majority of parcel thefts that are reported never result in the apprehension of a criminal. In fact, 90% of thieves are never caught and prosecuted. Criminals tend to strike wherever they see an opportunity, especially in residential communities where they are better able to hide. To help with package theft prevention, many communities are investing in secure parcel lockers. This is a sure way to conceal any valuable deliveries from sight and ensure you don’t fall victim to theft.
Staying Home Won’t Stop A Thief
The fear of parcel theft is so ubiquitous in the United States that, according to a 2017 survey, 53% of participants claimed that they would change their daily plans so that they could be home during the predicted delivery time. 20% of participants even went as far as claiming that they would leave work early in order to pick up a package.
What they don’t know is that:
- Porch pirates are cunning, and will often intercept a package within minutes of delivery
- Many porch pirates have adopted the notorious practice of trailing delivery trucks, picking up package after package as they’re dropped off
By installing a Parcel Pending smart locker system, not only will thieves be incapable of accessing deliveries, but the mere presence of a lockbox can deter them from attempting future thefts in the neighborhood.
One-Quarter of People Have Experienced Parcel Theft
There are over 7.5 billion people in the world, and over 1.6 billion of them use the internet regularly to make purchases. That means 21% of the world’s entire population buys goods online. With so many packages in circulation, it’s easy to see why parcel theft has become such a ubiquitous new age crime. Although parcel theft is on the rise, homebuilders can help create safer neighborhoods by investing in safety features such as parcel lockers.
There’s a Lot of Money at Stake
While many e-commerce transactions involve the purchase of small, inexpensive items like back to school supplies, many also use the internet for much more expensive purchases. Part of the appeal for thieves is that any single package may contain an item of high value, which they can then resell for a high profit.
That said, there’s a lot of money at stake for buyers, who often won’t receive a refund if the package is stolen (many companies can’t verify that fraud has been committed, and so to protect themselves they require consumers to take on the risk.)
- On average, thieves get away with $140 per parcel theft
- Given that most consumers order more than one package at a time, the average number of packages stolen in a single theft comes out to 2.6
The statistics clearly aren’t pretty, but the good news for community managers and homebuilders is that parcel theft is a highly preventable crime, especially if you install a residential parcel locker . And once criminals realize that a given residential community is protected, they tend to move elsewhere.
Invest in Parcel Pending Electronic Lockers
We’ll cover a number of ways that you can protect a residential community from parcel theft, but at the top of the list—and for good reason—is the use of electronic security lockers. The combination of smart technology, fortified security, and advanced communication options between the locker, delivery person, and recipient almost completely mitigates the risk of theft.
Multi-family lockboxes possess a wide range of benefits, which include:
- Packages are Hidden: When looking for packages to steal, the majority of thieves will go for easy targets. Boxes laying in plain sight are often the first to be snatched up. Parcel Pending lockers ensure that all deliveries sent to the residence are kept securely locked away from the time the delivery person drops it off until the resident retrieves it.
- Lowered Operational Costs: Many large residential facilities staff members spend hours each week sorting and distributing parcels. On average, the installation of Parcel Pending lockers cuts out almost 24 of these hours, which can then be dedicated to other maintenance tasks.
- Lockers are Refrigerated: Dropping off groceries and medication has always posed a unique challenge for both consumers and delivery services. Unless the drop off is timed perfectly, the goods can slowly perish before they’re placed into a refrigerated area. Parcel Pending lockers eliminate this problem by offering refrigerated storage.
- Cloud-Based Surveillance: 24/7 cloud-based video surveillance ensures that only the intended recipient receives the package and that the correct delivery service is dropping it off.
Install Additional Security Cameras
The mere presence of security cameras is often enough to deter criminals. If purchased, they should be placed in a highly visible location so that they can be immediately identified by any would-be thieves.
While the Parcel Pending lockboxes contain video surveillance technology, it’s not a bad idea to install a few extra cameras around a residential premise. That way, if anyone does attempt a theft, the likelihood that their face is caught on camera is increased dramatically, which allows local authorities to track the individual.
Ideally, cameras should:
- Possess motion detectors, so that they will send out an alert to building managers or security officers when movement is detected
- Offer the “Playback” feature, which gives users the chance to rewind and scroll through hours of recordings in case reviewing the footage is necessary
- Be placed at a high vantage point, in a location that is both easily visible to possible thieves and difficult to reach without a ladder
Be Familiar with Delivery People
No matter how advanced our security technology might get, it’s always helpful to make sure residents are on good terms with their delivery people. Not only does it increase peace of mind for those who are receiving packages, but if your local delivery personnel notice any suspicious activity, they will feel more inclined to report it.
However, no matter who delivers packages to your residential unit, Parcel Pending lockers are “courier agnostic,” meaning that lockboxes will accept deliveries from all possible couriers, which guarantees 100% deliverability.
One of the best ways to deter criminals and ensure package security is to ward off wrongdoers before they have the chance to commit a theft. We’ve already explained how a highly visible camera system can help you achieve this aim. Another really useful tactic is to post signs.
Any signs you post should indicate that the premises are under surveillance. If you decide that you’re going to purchase some signs—an inexpensive investment—make sure you:
- Install signs that don’t simply blend into the wall; consider using orange or yellow signs that attract the eye
- Place them high, in a place that can easily be seen and not accessed
Hire Community Security Guards
If there’s one thing criminals hate, it’s the sight of a badge. Many community housing complexes have compounded their security measures by hiring a security officer to patrol the premises, adding yet another layer of protection with a whole range of benefits.
- Scare off Criminals: Criminals may live outside of the law, but many of them act rationally. They won’t attempt a theft if the risk is high. The mere presence of a security officer greatly increases the chance that they will be identified or apprehended, which decreases the chance they will attempt a theft.
- Reassure Residents: The presence of a security officer is comforting for residents, especially if they live in a neighborhood with a reputation for crime. The security officer is another familiar, helpful face that they can rely on in case they notice suspicious activity or feel threatened in any way.
- Another Set of Eyes: Parcel Pending lockers are designed with built-in cameras, but it never hurts to have yet another set of eyes vigilantly patrolling the premises. If they spot suspicious characters lurking around the building, they can preemptively contact the authorities.
Unite the Community
The more connected residents feel to one another the more responsible they feel for each others’ safety, and the better able they are to identify suspicious characters. When a community is close-knit—everyone knows which kids belong to which parents, and which friends regularly visit which residents—the presence of a stranger is more likely to raise alarm.
There are several different ways to bring a community together. Often, families don’t have opportunities to interact because of work or school schedules, so it can be helpful to organize an event.
- Organize a Neighborhood Watch Program: The explicit purpose of a neighborhood watch program is to create a culture of vigilance among residents in a given community. It’s also a great excuse to get together, catch up on each others’ lives, and meet neighbors they might not otherwise encounter.
- Host a Block Party: Block parties are memorable, one-off events that work to immediately bring a community closer together.
If a community residence is well maintained, it sends a clear message to criminals: residents care about their properties, and are more likely to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
Parcel theft is likelier to occur if the targeted establishment looks unkempt or in disarray. By regularly cleaning the premises—cutting the grass, picking up trash, buffing out graffiti, washing windows—the chance that thieves will target the property is greatly diminished.
Wrapping up Secure Package Delivery
We’ve covered many different ways homebuilders or community managers can decrease the chance of parcel theft, and reduce the chance that a residential community will be targeted by criminals. However, the most effective means of preventing parcel theft is by storing packages in Parcel Pending lockers, out of sight and behind reinforced materials.
Using Parcel Pending lockers, package retrieval is both quick and convenient, operational costs in a housing community are decreased, and smart solutions like refrigerated lockers can make package delivery more dynamic than ever before.
San Jose Police Department. (n.d.). San Jose Police Department. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from http://www.sjpd.org/bfo/community/crimeprev/preventiontips/prevent_burglary.html
Theft Prevention Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.preventpackagetheft.com/theft-prevention-guide
Weise, E. (2018, December 14). Were your Amazon packages stolen? Porch Pirates run rampant this holiday season. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2018/12/14/porch-pirates-package-theft-climb-more-americans-shop-online/2218910002