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Analysis: Amazon Package Theft in Major US Cities

After conducting an extensive study of package theft in America last year, we’re no strangers to the troubling trends. As Amazon and other massive online retailers popularize their services at a dizzying rate, doorsteps and mailrooms across the country remain vulnerable.

In our latest analysis of package theft trends, we set our sights on urban America, using geo-targeted search data to identify in which cities the pervasiveness of package theft is greatest.



There are many fascinating trends on display in this analysis. Take, for example, the fact that package theft is pervasive in many of the country’s most notable technology hubs, including San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston and Washington, D.C. Also notable is the high concentration of wealth in these cities, which could manifest as more packages to steal (more people ordering and consuming more things) or, from a thief’s perspective, more high-value targets relative to cities with less wealth.

In addition to our binary analysis of Google searches and population, we checked our results against the FBI’s national crime statistics, and in particular, city-based larceny-theft rates in each of the 50 cities we studied. We found many cities with high larceny-theft rates also showed high search prevalence for “Amazon package stolen.” Those include San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Oakland, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. A handful of other cities showed low rates of both larceny-theft and search, including El Paso, Detroit, Mesa and Virginia Beach.

The two most significant outliers in these regards were Boston and Tucson. Tucson has the highest larceny-theft rate of the 50 cities we analyzed, but a very average prevalence of search. On the other hand, Boston has the fourth highest prevalence for search in the country, but also boasts one of the ten lowest larceny-theft rates in the country.

Below is a table representing the identical data displayed on our map, this time as a ratio of persons per search, meaning for each monthly search of “Amazon package stolen” that Google registers, there are “x” residents living in a given city. Keep in mind, the number of searches does not represent the number of packages stolen; it only represents a very small fraction of victims of Amazon packages theft who choose to query the subject online.



Methodology

In July 2018, we used Google AdWords to assess the rolling monthly averages for the search term “Amazon package stolen,” in the 50 most populous US cities, according to 2017 US Census estimates. We then quantified the prevalence of searches by calculating searches per capita (as well as the inverse of that ratio, persons per search).

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