The 2017 Package Theft Report: Porch Pirates, Purchase Habits, and Privacy

You’ve been looking forward to getting your online package now for a few days. You’re giddy with excitement. It’s supposed to come today. Finally! But wait…when you go outside your front door to look for it — it’s nowhere to be found. Oh, no. Somebody stole it.

While many believe they’re most at risk to package theft around the holiday season, package theft is an issue all year long.

We surveyed 1,000 people to understand who’s been affected by package theft, what cautionary methods Americans are taking to avoid their online shipments from getting taken, and to see how they think online retailers can keep their packages safe. Let’s dive into the report.

The online shopping habits of consumers play a large role when it comes to package theft. Thieves have been known to scout consumer’s homes and other locations where packages are unattended and look for common trends in shipping frequency and volume. Even though the risk of porch piracy is real, our respondents felt comfortable spending a decent-sized chunk of change on their online packages. For example, 62 percent of respondents say they felt safe to spend between $101-$1,000 for an online package. In fact, 5 percent of respondents felt safe to spend $5,000 or more for an online package.

Rural and urban dwellers spend about the same average amount each month on online packages ($187 and $186, respectively). Suburbanites spend a bit more ($221 a month). Regionally, the Northwestern part of the U.S. spends the most on online packages ($251 a month) and Midwesterners spend the least ($168 a month).

If you’re a frequent online shopper and receive a number of packages a month, some delivery companies suggest asking for a tracking number, or requesting a signature for delivery to make the transaction more secure. Another key deterrent is having a secure area where packages can be delivered. According to the survey, 42 percent say they have an area not visible to the public where delivery companies can leave packages.

The majority of respondents (92 percent) say they prefer to get packages delivered to their home. However, 35 percent say they’ve sent a package to a different address, other than their home, to prevent theft. If you’re not able to ship your items to a secure location, many major shipping companies offer services that will assure you’re home when the package is being delivered. In fact, 53 percent of respondents say they’ve changed their plans in order to receive a package, even if they didn’t have to sign for it. However, compared to millennials and Gen X, Baby Boomers were the least likely to change their plans in order to receive a package.

Fear plays a role in our online spending habits. We found that 41 percent of respondents don’t buy certain items online because they’re afraid the packages will get stolen. The No. 1 item they avoid? Electronics. Also, female respondents spent 26 percent less than male respondents for their most expensive items.

Are online retailers doing enough to prevent porch piracy? According to our respondents, 61 percent say no. While package theft can occur for a number of reasons, here are some examples of what respondents believe could reduce package theft: discreet packaging (29 percent), package theft insurance (16 percent) and the ability to track the boxes with GPS (9 percent).

We also asked respondents what makes packages so appealing to porch pirates. Their top three answers: Location of the box after arriving (33 percent), branded packaging (31 percent) and descriptive text on the box (20 percent). While there are marketing benefits to custom packaging, there are many options available to online retailers to help reduce the threat of porch piracy. For more information on e-commerce packaging solutions, click here.

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