Pirates Abound in Unwatched Waters

Dear Rich Lifer,

As the weather gets colder here in the US, and the dulcet tones of Christmas music permeate the air in every store, you might start to get in the holiday mood…

You might even start shopping or planning your gifts a little early…

But if you’re thinking about buying online and having items delivered to your home, you might want to think again…

Because package theft (also known as “porch piracy”) is on the rise – big time.

In a recent report featuring data from 2017, the makers of the Ring doorbell tell us that 39% of people have had a package stolen over the course of a year. No small number, and not a cheap one either. The average value of these packages is $140!

This year, ecommerce and home delivery are expected to rise as much as 16%, so it’s likely that instances of package theft won’t slow down any time soon.

And this isn’t just limited to urban areas, either. It’s true that cities like San Francisco, CA, and Austin, TX have some of the worst instances of package theft, but according to CNBC, the mainly rural state of North Dakota reports more theft than any other state!

These thefts occur at night sometimes, but they mostly happen during the day – some even just minutes after your package is delivered.

Perhaps worst of all? The offenders almost never get caught. City-Journal reports that less than 10% of reported cases of package theft will end in an arrest – and of that group, only a small minority will ever get prosecuted or punished for their crimes.

The good news is there are a couple of easy things you can do to defend against porch pirates…

And instead of losing time and money, I’ll even tell you how you can save a little cash while doing it.

Defending Against Pirates

First, stay aware. Join an app like NextDoor so you can keep an ear on what’s going on in your neighborhood. If there’s an uptick in mail thefts or porch piracy, you’ll know you need to be on high alert.

Next, consider sending your items to a parcel locker instead of your home. Yes, it’s more convenient to have Amazon bring just about everything to your door, but with every package comes the risk of theft. If your items are sent to a parcel locker, you can arrange to pick them up every few days and have the peace of mind to know nothing is being stolen.

If you have to have something sent to your home, make sure you keep an eye on the delivery updates. Some companies will even text when an item is at your door, so you can go get your package before a thief can scoop it up.

Sometimes, you may be expecting a package at a time you have to head out. Ask a close neighbor to keep an eye out for you, and then return the favor when they’re away, too. The fewer times a thief is successful, the less chance they’re likely to return to your neighborhood.

Ask carriers to leave your package somewhere other than the front porch. Of course, this method isn’t foolproof, but it takes a much gutsier thief to sneak into your backyard than it does to just grab an item from the front door and walk away.

Finally, you should also consider investing in home surveillance equipment. With some of the new systems, you can catch thieves in the act and even confront them from afar as your surveillance system will alert you when someone comes to your door.

Here are a few ways to save when it comes to installing home surveillance equipment.

Know Your Needs

The mega-systems available at many big box retailers look great, but they’re truly overkill for properties that are on the small side. Why pay for cameras you don’t need and can’t use, right? In order to observe what goes on outside your home, you’ll need cameras for front door, back door, side and back windows, and backyard or side gate. This will help you keep an eye on the whole property – even beyond just the threat of porch pirates.

Buy Right

Big box stores have great pricing on sets of surveillance cameras, but they’re notoriously unhelpful when it comes to installation or troubleshooting. If you’re very comfortable with DIY, then go ahead and buy from somewhere like Amazon, Best Buy, or Costco, but if you want more assistance with the process, look for a smaller company that specializes in surveillance equipment only.

Understand the Available Features

If you’re not worried about package theft, you might not care if you can speak to people at your door remotely, but if it’s a big concern for you, make sure the system you pick has speakers, for example. There are tons of surveillance set ups out there, so do research to make sure you’re choosing the right one for you. You can use sites like Cnet.com to validate your ideas.

Pick the Right Brands

You probably don’t want to go cheap on this. Some low-end surveillance kits will offer everything they think you need, but you might need to add additional cameras or upgrade components in the future. If you pick a quality brand with a wide variety of equipment available, you’ll have the flexibility you need and durable equipment that will save you money in the long run.

Wait for Sales

Once you know what brands and components you’re looking for, you can start scanning for upcoming deals. With Black Friday coming up, you can expect to see deals galore, but if you decide to shop for your equipment later in the year, you can still find great prices by using sites like SlickDeals.net to scour for savings.

Call Your Insurance Company

Once you’ve got your home surveillance system installed, contact your homeowners insurance company and ask for a discount on your policy. Most of the biggest insurance providers will give you a break for having this extra equipment.

You may not be able to stop every bad thing that might occur, but with the right precautions and surveillance, you can deter package thieves and other would-be criminals from doing harm. Put the work in now – before the packages start getting delivered in droves. You won’t regret it.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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Nilus Mattive

Nilus is the editor for the daily e-letter The Rich Life Roadmap and a Paradigm Press analyst.

Nilus began his professional career at Jono Steinberg’s Individual Investor Group, where he published his original research through a regular investment column. Later, he worked for a private equity business and spent five years editing Standard and Poor’s...

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