Tis the Porch Pirate Season

Photo by Mary O’KEEFE
Thieves are targeting packages left unattended on home porches.


“Porch pirates” or “box bandits” are known for cruising local neighborhoods looking for booty. This is especially true during the holidays.

Porch pirates and box bandits are terms used for criminals who steal packages that have been delivered to a home, often to the front porch.

The home security company Safewise collected information about porch thievery from several agencies, including the FBI, insurance and shipping companies. It found that for the second year in a row the San Francisco area had the highest number of package thefts in the nation and a larceny-rate of 24.2 incidents per 1,000 people. It also listed Los Angeles as ninth in areas porch pirates strike most, with San Francisco holding the number one spot followed by Salt Lake City, Utah then Portland, Oregon, Baltimore, Maryland, Seattle-Tacoma, Washington, Chicago, Illinois, Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado, then LA and in 10th place the greater Sacramento Metro area.

“It’s everywhere,” said Sgt. Alan Chu, LA County Sheriff’s Dept.-Crescenta Valley Station. “It does increase during this [holiday] time with more packages being delivered.”

He added law enforcement expects to see an increase in burglaries over the holidays as well.

According to an FBI report, in 2018 there were an estimated 5,217,055 larceny-thefts nationwide. As defined by the FBI, larceny-thefts are the unlawful taking, carrying, leading or riding away of property from possession or constructive possession of another. There has been a decrease nationally in larceny-thefts when compared to 2014, but the problem is still a concern.

“Larceny-thefts accounted for an estimated 72.5% of property crimes in 2018,” the study stated. “Thefts from motor vehicles accounted for 27% of all larceny-thefts in 2018.”

Delivery services like UPS, USPS and Amazon have been paying attention to the porch thefts and have put into place some ways to help reduce the thefts. These include notifying customers of when their packages have been delivered and, in some cases like Amazon, a photo is taken of the package when it is delivered and where it was left.

Key by Amazon allows Amazon Prime members to have their packages put into their garage via a specific app. To find out if a home is in an eligible area, visit www.myq.com/key-by-amazon. United States Post Office customers can sign up to have an email sent to them with images of what will be delivered to their home that day.

UPS offers customers two safety programs, UPS My Choice and UPS Access Point. These programs let a resident track and reroute packages. To find out more, visit www.ups.com. Federal Express also has suggestions and programs to help residents protect their deliveries.

Most stores and other shipping companies on their individual websites have tips on how to keep delivered packages safer.

There are things that neighbors can do to help, Chu said.

“Be a good neighbor,” he said. “Keep an eye out.”

Often those who plan to steal packages follow delivery trucks through neighborhoods. Chu said if a neighbor notices a car following a delivery truck to make certain to safely get the description of the vehicle and a license plate if possible.

“And call us right away,” he advised. “Don’t wait.”

CV Sheriff’s Station can be contacted at (818) 248-2740 and Glendale Police Dept. at (818) 548-4911.