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How to Prevent Package Theft from Residential Communal Spaces

Is installing CCTV, or hiring extra staff to manage parcels enough to stop parcel thieves? Jon Hammond, our Head of Real Estate for Parcel Locker Solutions thinks there is a better way.

With online delivery acting as a lifeline for many during periods of lockdown and isolation, more people are getting items delivered than ever before. Despite more people being at home, social distancing rules and the requirement for zero-contact deliveries means less parcels are ending up in the hands of residents.

It is not unusual for delivery drivers to leave a parcel in an alternative place if they attempt delivery while a resident is not in. But many ‘safeplaces’ aren’t as secure as residents would hope; common places such as behind a wheelie bin, on a doorstep, behind a reception desk or in a communal lobby area, can often draw the attention of ‘porch pirates’ or ‘box bandits’ – people who steal parcels and packages that are intended for someone else.

In 2019, before COVID caused package deliveries to balloon, Royal Mail spent almost £10 million on customer compensation, over half of which was due to parcel loss. It’s safe to expect compensation reports for 2020 to be higher. As delivery volumes increase, unfortunately so do the number of lost or stolen parcels. For some organised burglars and opportunist criminals, the lure of a parcel left outside someone’s door is the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a bull. Thefts of parcels and packages in the UK have actually increased by 22% between 2016-2019, according to Police records. And this figure could be much higher since not all parcel thefts are reported or recorded.

According to research by Citizens Advice, almost 7 in 10 consumers have experienced a problem with parcel delivery in the past year. Issues include parcels that arrive late, are left in an unsafe place or delivered to the incorrect address completely. 34% of consumers with a parcel delivery problem feel stress, anger, or annoyance as a result. While package theft is a major nuisance, it also has financial repercussions for the consumer.

For managed properties such as BTR and multi-tenant buildings, resident satisfaction is key to their success. Fulfilling the delivery of a parcel is a basic expectation from a resident. When a building does not have the correct processes or infrastructure to support this, it can weigh negatively on a resident’s experience.

For many BTR developments, the onus is on building management to receive, store and sometimes even distribute parcels for residents. But even if building management is responsible for package distribution, items can still be lost or stolen, because there’s an extra step, or more, between the delivering carrier and the recipient. The more steps there are between an item leaving a retailer and arriving in the hands of the intended recipient, the more opportunities there are for problems to arise.

On the other hand, it is not ideal to allow couriers to freely roam the building and deliver door-to-door since any external visitors can be perceived as a risk to the safety of the residents and the building. There could be hundreds of apartments within each building, and couriers from multiple different companies all wandering around the building attempting to deliver to each residents’ door.

Even with a surveillance camera or video doorbell, a recently delivered package in plain sight is an easy target for porch pirating. Installing these methods can help to deter thieves, but they do not provide physical protection of the parcel and it is still easy for people to mask their identity and commit theft. Ultimately, any time a pile of packages is left unattended in an accessible place there is the possibility of pilfering; by property employees, other residents, or opportunistic thieves. Therefore, the only safe space for any carrier to deliver into, that is not directly into the hands of the resident, is a secure place which once delivered, makes the parcel inaccessible to anyone other than the intended recipient.

Unlike cameras, parcel lockers provide physical protection and security for packages, not just a deterrent that may or may not be effective. Parcel lockers in residential communities also provide residents with 24/7 access to packages where they live, so residents don’t have to go offsite or rearrange their schedule to wait for a courier.

The way Quadient parcel lockers works is simple. Recipients are instantly notified by text, email, or app notification when they have a delivery. Once the notification is received, the recipient can pick up the package using the unique code provided in the notification, or by using our mobile app. Property managers do not need to sign for, sort, or distribute packages to residents. Instead, our locker solutions provide a secure, fast and easy way for residents to retrieve their own packages at their convenience.

In 2021 and beyond, property managers should expect to manage significantly more packages as residents continue to opt to avoid stores and shop online. It is important when designing a new, or upgrading an existing BTR property, to factor in parcel management.

For a free demonstration by one of our parcel management experts, request a call back here.