Tis the Season for Porch Pirates

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

In case you hadn’t yet heard, Christmas is right around the corner. Yes, I know that some find it offensive to talk about Christmas in October, but in my house, we get started early. Santa’s Workshop is in full swing, churning out gifts for the wife, kids and grandkids. You’ve got to start early when you do handmade gifts.

Let me tell you who else the Christmas season starts early for… porch pirates. Yes, as people start buying gifts, they’ll be out there, cruising neighborhoods, seeking out porches with a little extra to catch their eye. They don’t care if they make your Christmas a little less jolly; all they care about is making their own jollier. If that has to happen at your expense, they don’t mind at all.

Porch pirates are opportunists, looking for opportunities and taking it where they find it. Like any other class of burglar, they really don’t care what they get, just as long as they can get something for it. In most cases, the items they steal will be sold, often for a fraction of what you paid for them.

There are those who have devised some rather imaginative deterrents against these porch pirates, including the guy who is selling fake boxes with a 12-gauge blank shell in them, that goes off when the box is lifted. That will surely put the fear of God into anyone picking it up. Another guy, who obviously has some engineering in him, has devised a box that shoots off a pound of confetti, while releasing skunk odor in their car. All this, while capturing their reaction on camera.

Maybe that’s a bit out of most of our reach. Since this is a crime of opportunity, the key to protecting yourself and your family is to deny the criminals the opportunity. You really don’t need to sit on the porch, shotgun across your knees to do that, although I will have to say, that would work as quite a deterrent. Even so, there are simpler ways.

Grab it Before They Can

The simplest solution, if you can do it, is to grab the packages before anyone else can. That can be tricky for families, when both work outside the home; but if you work from home or are home during the day for whatever other reason, it’s not an issue. For those who have Amazon Prime, try and arrange your orders to arrive on the weekends, so that you can be there to receive them.

Smart Delivery Boxes

Smart delivery boxes are large lockboxes you can put on your porch, which the delivery drivers can then put your packages in. They’re not exactly cheap; but still considerably cheaper than losing the stuff you’ve ordered, especially if you’ve ordered some expensive gifts. Part of the effectiveness of these boxes is that they are there on your porch all the time. Those drive-by criminals aren’t going to want to take the time to stop and check to see if there’s anything inside.

If you’re a woodworker, you can probably make your own delivery box, saving yourself money. If you do, it’s not going to have the “smart” capability of the fancy, expensive ones. But as long as it works, is it really important that your phone tells you when you’ve gotten a delivery?

Hiding Places

Since the main thing that the delivery box does for you is keep the packages out of the eyes of the porch pirates, all you really need is a hidden place for the delivery driver to put your packages. Some porches, especially those with columns, railings or plants in front of them, have naturally occurring places which are out of sight. Packages left there won’t be seen by the criminals, so they won’t stop to pick them up.

Putting up a sign, that says something like “This is a good place to put packages” can help your delivery driver to help you. As long as that sign isn’t visible from the street, it shouldn’t give your hiding place away.

Delivery to Alternate Address

A really low-tech solution to the problem is to have the package delivered to an alternate address, where there is someone to receive it. This can be a family member, neighbor, or one of those package shipping places. Most of them also offer post-office boxes and accept deliveries.

Amazon is offering a service called “Amazon hub locker,” where your packages can be delivered and you can pick them up at your convenience. The locker will send you a message when your package arrives, letting you know that you need to pick it up. You have to sign up for the service, but there is no additional cost.

Security Cameras and Lights

Finally, many of the things that deter burglars will also deter porch pirates. Adding motion activated lights and cameras to record their visit will keep most off of your porch. They don’t want the police to have that evidence of their visit. Just make sure that your cameras are visible, so that they can have that deterrent effect.

Keep in mind that security cameras are not a foolproof solution for anything around your home. Criminals have learned that it’s easy to fool such a camera by wearing a hoodie and keeping their head down. Without a visible face to record, the amount of useful evidence that camera can provide is severely limited.

Whatever you choose to do, the idea is to be prepared for the porch pirates. The more prepared you are, the less of an opportunity you offer them. And when all else fails, make sure you keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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