05 Nov Beware of Porch Pirates This Holiday Season
The holiday season is here. This means that people all over will flock to stores, both brick and mortar, and virtual alike as they search for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. While this is a very merry time of the year, there are unfortunately some Scrooges out there who like to take advantage of unsuspecting people.
Even when someone is shopping online, they need to be careful. If they aren’t then someone else could end up with their loved one’s Christmas gift. This can happen when the gift is eventually delivered. If it is left unattended for too long, then a passerby may decide to take it for themselves. While most people wouldn’t do this, there are plenty of people out there who would.
Tips for Avoiding Package Theft
One of the simplest ways to avoid package theft is for a person to do all of their shopping at brick and mortar stores. This completely eliminates the chances of some thief stealing the items off the front porch. Of course, this method is incredibly tedious and inconvenient. Shopping online is so much simpler.
Luckily for online shoppers, there are ways of keeping their packages safe, thereby ensuring they get to the intended recipient. Many shipping companies have come to recognize the problem of package theft, and provide their clients with options to protect their shipments. A person is much more likely to get their package if they take advantage of these options accordingly.
First and foremost, get the tracking number for the shipment. This simple number allows a person to monitor their package and have a more accurate idea of when it will be delivered. From there, a person will either be able to get the package themselves, or possibly have a neighbor pick it up for them.
FedEx and the United States Postal Service (USPS) both allow customers to schedule their shipments in advanced. This helps a person make sure that they, or someone they trust, will be at home when the delivery arrives. Then the package will be able to be taken off the porch before some wannabe thief strolls by and gets a bright idea.
Some shipping companies, such as FedEx, also allow customers to require a signature for the delivery. This way, the package won’t be left at the house unless someone signs for it.
Another option that is available with some shippers, is the ability to make special requests with the delivery. A person can leave special instructions that the delivery person will follow, such as leaving the package at the back door or hidden in the bushes.
Another simple option that is available with all shipping companies is to have the package delivered to a different address. A person could have the package shipped to a trusted neighbor who is always home, or if their work allows it, ship it to their office.
Many stores allow their customers to use in-store pickup. The person orders the item online, and then can pick it up at a local store. Amazon offers a similar service called Amazon Locker where they will ship items to a local locker and give the customer a code to open said locker. Even UPS has a service like this, where a person can request that the item be sent to a nearby UPS store where the item can then be picked up.
These options eliminate any chances of the item being left in the open where a thief could take it. A person just needs to look into what the shipper or retailer offers.
Penalties of Porch Piracy
Package theft from front doors, or package piracy as it is commonly called, is typically a crime of opportunity. More often than not, the thief was simply strolling or driving by when they saw the package and decided to take the unclaimed item for themselves. To them, it seems so simple. They only see it as taking a package, and so they don’t expect to get into any real trouble. However, that is not the case.
After all, the stealing of a package is theft. This can get a person charged with theft, petty or grand depending on the value of the contents of the package. A person could also face charges of mail theft.
Petty theft (Penal Code 484a & 488) and mail theft (Penal Code 530.5e) are misdemeanors that can earn a person:
- Up to 1 year in county jail.
- A max fine of $1,000.
- Some combination fine and jail time.
Grand theft (Penal Code 487) involves the theft of any items that have a value greater than $950. The crime of grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The consequences for committing misdemeanor grand theft in California are similar to the ones above. Felony Grand theft can earn a person 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison, plus hefty fines.
Practice Safe Shipping
If a person wants to keep their shipments safe this holiday season, then they need to practice safe shipping. This means taking advantage of the above tips to ensure that either someone is there to pick-up the package, or it is put in a safe place for the person to pick-up later. So long as a person does that, they guarantee that they will get their packages safely.