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Everything You Need to Protect Your Black Friday Deliveries from Porch Pirates

A man stealing a package from a porch
RightFramePhotoVideo / Shutterstock.com

Few things are sweeter than scoring an epic deal on a high-dollar gift, especially when it’s for yourself. And as such, few things are more demoralizing than having your prized package stolen right from your porch. With a few tools, some of them free, you can prevent that travesty.

Unfortunately, porch piracy is on the rise and it only seems to be getting worse every year. We all leave home occasionally, and it’s hard to control exactly when your packages will arrive. If they’re out on your porch for hours on end, that makes them Prime products (pun intended) for theft. To keep that from happening, you’ll want to limit the time your packages are exposed and keep an eye on them when that’s unavoidable.

To that end, we’ll start with the free tools you don’t even need to have delivered to you, before moving on to the solutions you have to buy. Because a video doorbell you don’t have yet won’t do any good for those Prime Deliveries arriving tomorrow.

Divert Your Packages Away from Your Porch

A yellow Amazon locker with a touchscreen
Hadrian / Shutterstock.com

The best and most effective method to prevent anyone from stealing packages from your property is to remove all temptation. If you know you’ll be getting a lot of deliveries during times when you can’t immediately retrieve your packages, don’t have them delivered to your home.

Instead, send your orders to pickup locations that are better protected. Amazon, for instance, offers a free locker service you can choose during checkout. The bonus here is that sometimes your packages will arrive faster if you choose the locker pickup option. But more importantly, by diverting your package to a secure location, thieves can’t take the boxes off your porch or from your front doorstep.

Similarly, UPS, FedEx, and USPS all offer options to hold your packages at a secure location, though you may have to pay for the service. But check into those options right away: If the package is already out for delivery, you can’t have it shunted to an alternative location. And not every package is eligible for secure lockup either, though the reasons why differ from carrier to carrier.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to head to a secondary location, Amazon Key can deliver directly into your garage (in-home deliveries are currently paused). You might need extra hardware, like a smart garage door opener, and an optional camera. But that hardware will give the Amazon delivery person the ability to open the door you approve and drop your package off inside your home, while you keep an eye on them to ensure that’s ALL they do if you get the camera. If you have a recent Chamberlain garage door opener, you may have everything you need to get started.

Track Your Packages so You Know When They Arrive

A sorting line moving packages in a UPS facility
UPS

If you can’t avoid sending your deliveries to your home, then the next best option is to track them. If you know when your orders will arrive, you can be there to get them off your doorstep as soon as possible. While companies like Amazon and FedEx let you leave notes for the delivery person to hide the package or drop it off at a backdoor, you can’t depend on that. Many delivery people are a tight enough time crunch that they’ll ignore instructions and leave your boxes out in plain view. It’s better to just be there.

Depending on what your order is, Amazon and UPS will often offer to let you watch the final stage of delivery as well. Amazon’s service tells you the number of stops left before yours, and UPS provides a real-time map that shows your delivery truck’s location.

You can get far more detailed information on your deliveries by signing up for accounts with FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Not only do they offer notifications, but you get more detailed tracking info and better estimates of delivery time. The basic accounts are free, though you can pay for extra features.

And again, if you need to deliver to your home, you want to be there when your package arrives so you can scoop it up before the thieves can. Over at Amazon, you can pick a day of the week you want all of your packages to arrive. Dubbed “Amazon Day,” setting it up will tell Amazon to hold any orders you make and deliver them all together on a Wednesday or a Saturday, or whatever day you like. Pick the day you know you’re always gonna be home.

Another good way to know the moment some packages arrive is a mailbox sensor. If a package comes through USPS and fits in your mailbox, that’s where it will end up.

Watch Your Packages After They Arrive

A Eufy doorbell connected to a home
Josh Hendrickson

Sometimes, you can’t avoid packages arriving at your doorstep on a day when you won’t be home. And for those instances, the best option is a bit of home security. You may have seen lockboxes and package bags you can purchase, but we don’t recommend those. It comes back to those delivery people on a time crunch. All too often we’ve seen pictures of packages next to a lockbox or improperly secured where they can still easily be stolen. Delivery people will ignore them, either because they’re too complicated to use or they don’t have the time. So, don’t waste your money.

Instead, the best (and final) resort you can rely on is cameras. Anything that will let you keep an eye on your packages and scare off any potential thieves. And thankfully, not every camera option is hard to install. One of the easiest makes use of your porch light.

The Wyze Lamp Socket screws into any light socket, essentially fitting between the socket and the bulb. That gives you a handy smart outdoor light you can schedule to turn off and on, but it also comes with a second benefit. It has a USB port strong enough to power a Wyze Cam v3, so you can put a camera at the perfect angle to watch your packages.

But if you want something a little less obvious, and that has more functionality, consider a video doorbell. These come in wired and battery-powered varieties and vary in features. Wired versions tend to have longer recording time options, as they don’t have to worry about saving energy. However, battery doorbells are easier to install and will work in homes without functional doorbell wiring.

Which doorbell you go with will depend on if you’re already invested in an ecosystem, and how much money you want to spend. But we have plenty of advice on that front. If your main consideration is avoiding subscription fees, check out the Eufy video doorbell. It doesn’t even offer a subscription option—just pay for the doorbell and you’re set.

The Best Video Doorbells of 2022

Best for Google Assistant
Nest Doorbell (Battery)
Best for Google Assistant
Nest Doorbell (wired)
Best for Amazon Alexa
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
Best for Amazon Alexa
Ring Video Doorbell 4
Best Budget
eufy Security Video Doorbell
Best Budget
Eufy Security Video Doorbell
Most Reliable Notifications
Arlo Essential
Best for Renters
Ring Peephole Camera

Regardless of the doorbell you choose, look for package detection options. Most video doorbell manufacturers offer the option, though some like the Ring doorbells and the original Nest doorbell require a subscription for the feature. Thankfully, others—like the aforementioned Eufy doorbell and the newer battery-powered Nest Doorbell—don’t.

A video doorbell alone might not be enough to deter thieves, though, so be prepared to keep an eye on your package and to yell at someone through the doorbell app if they try to walk away with your box. It won’t always work, but often they’ll drop the package and run.

Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof method to prevent all porch piracy. Even Amazon Lockers sometimes don’t work out as well as you’d hope. But thieves tend to prefer the easiest targets with the least resistance. The more protected your packages are, the most likely you are to find them when you get home.

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and is responsible for the site's content direction. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smart home enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »