Skip to main content

Baby, I stole outside

You’ve finished your online shopping, your gifts have shipped and you’re waiting for them to arrive – but some Grinch decides to ruin your holiday. On this 9th day of Consumer Protection, we’re talking about how to stop porch pirates in their tracks.

Every year millions of people have packages stolen right from their doorsteps.  So what’s the best way to stop them?

  • Require a signature.  When your shopping cart is full and it’s time to choose your shipping details, take a moment to check “signature required.” A contact-free way to sign may be available through major package delivery services. You can request delivery confirmations, too.

  • Give specific delivery instructions. Many shippers will let you specify where to leave packages — maybe in your back yard, or even redirecting them to a trusted neighbor’s address, if you won’t be home.

  • Install motion activated lights.  Outdoor lights with a motion sensor might make your home a lot less attractive to would-be thieves, making them much more visible than they’d likely want to be.

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Don't use your…
December 16, 2020
It would be most helpful if all couriers offered a more dependable delivery window.
Don't use your…
December 16, 2020
Porch pirates work in broad daylight No signatures wanted anymore because of covid I gave specific directions several times and they were not followed.....
December 16, 2020
I love yalls site for keeping us informed but i live in the deep country surrounded by trees and get tons of stuff on porch, with two dogs protecting it.
December 16, 2020
Or have your packages delivered to a secure locker!
December 16, 2020
We have a sign on the front door, "Please leave all deliveries on back porch". The delivery people are in such a hurry, many times they didn't see the sign. Packages were left on the front porch, easy to steal, or sit in the rain. After several phone calls to Amazon, every delivery is now left on the back porch, .... which is under a roof.
Santas helper
December 16, 2020
Also post a sign there's motion activated cameras.
December 16, 2020
When giving driver instructions, put down to knock or ring the doorbell.
December 16, 2020
I would add that as soon as you receive an email/text that your purchase has shipped, you should click on the track package link and ask that you be either emailed or texted when the package is delivered. I do this all the time and it works great.
December 19, 2020

In reply to by Jeanne

I do this also so I know within a certain period of time when to expect it and when my stuff is actually dropped off so it rarely stays outside long. Had things stolen a few times in a previous neighborhood where a locking mailbox was only solution & one I still recommend. They have larger sizes for deliveries now too :)
December 16, 2020
Also make sure your house number appears both at the street (curb or mailbox for example) and on the house entry area (like near the front door). Many "lost" packages are delivered to wrong houses or even the wrong street with the same house number (this has happened to me). Our driveways and garages are on the back side with a drive (like a paved alley) from the side streets, so there is no driveway or garage entry access from the front.
Calamity John
December 16, 2020
There are lobby pirates, too! My condo complex was having some missing pkg issues, until the frugal board members finally voted to install cameras in all of the buildings' lobbies. Seems to have worked. Prior to the cameras there were fairly numerous complaints about missing pkgs. I came up short on one delivery, but Amazon replaced it at no add'l cost. Shopping w/reliable retailers is reassuring. Thx for your important efforts.
December 17, 2020
It would be nice if they would ring the door bell.
December 19, 2020

In reply to by njs8987

My dogs go bananas when this happens but it probably alerts would-be thrives also! We've been considering one of those doorbell or window porch cameras after seeing how well one of these small systems worked for a family member.
December 17, 2020
Delivery service control is most difficult today. I've found packages lying on the driveway, where the driver must have just tossed it. Some drivers are conscientious, but to most, it is 'just a job.' Using common sense of not leaving packages so blatantly in view would be a good training session for delivery people.
goku drip
January 20, 2021
good information thank you