If it hasn't happened to you, you're likely worried about it happening. You definitely know it's occurred in the neighborhood.
Though the holiday season is a time of good tidings and cheer, it's also prime time for porch pirates. They swoop in after a delivery driver has left your stoop, snatching a package and scurrying away.
Or maybe they take a second to scrawl a thank-you note first. Believe it or not, that's what a Minneapolis porch pirate did. He or she left a handwritten folded letter in the package's place. It said:
"So just a quick little thank you for leaving me the opportunity of stealing your package. Very nice of you." And it was signed, "The new owner of your package."
There's really no need for that kind of sarcasm.
How to fight back against pirates
Some drivers do all they can to help thwart the pirates: tucking the package behind a potted fern or against the railing, but smart thieves have a few tricks, like following the delivery truck.
In frustration, some homeowners have come up with interesting solutions to surprise would-be package-nabbers.
After receiving the thank-you note, the angry woman in Minneapolis now has a decoy package on her porch that contains what she describes as "a gift from her dog."
Former NASA engineer Mark Rober developed a high-tech pseudo-package after a delivery was stolen from his front porch. He showered unsuspecting thieves with a serious glitter bomb.
Now, we're not fans of glitter, because eventually it will make its way into the ocean, but Rober's payback skills are impressive.
Rober's package was so popular that he spent seven months creating a new and improved version. The most recent stinky glitter bomb came with biodegradable glitter, fake police chatter, very smelly spray and a countdown to make porch pirates assume something even worse was going to happen.
Take a look:
How bad is the problem?
Porch pirates are more than just a legend. (Photo: MIke Kline [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)
Listen to any newscast or check out any neighborhood group during the holidays and the discussion will eventually turn to porch pirates.
Nearly one in four people say they've been victimized by porch pirates and almost half know someone who has had a package stolen, according to a survey by Wakefield Research commissioned by Comcast. Millennials are even more likely to have had a package stolen or know someone who has, according to that study.
According to a report commissioned in 2017 by the home security company Ring, the average value of stolen packages in the preceding year was $140. That study found 19% of homeowners (about one in five) has been a victim of package theft.
Some cities have a bigger problem with package theft than others, reports SafeWise, a research company specializing in home security and safety products. They analyzed statistics to find the top 10 metro areas where porch pirates strike the most:
- Greater San Francisco metro area
- Salt Lake City
- Portland, Oregon
- Los Angeles
- Greater Sacramento metro area, California
Some people in these areas — and pretty much everywhere else — use video doorbells to try to capture the bad guys. But occasionally they also record sweet moments, like this hardworking delivery driver in Middletown, Delaware, who stumbled upon a box of snacks left for him by the homeowner.
Hopefully the porch pirates didn't get those treats, too.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information since it was published in December 2019.