Taking Revenge on Porch Pirates?

Home deliveries have made our lives a lot easier, haven’t they?

It used to be when someone mailed something to you that did not fit in your mailbox, the deliverer would leave you a note about it.

You then had to take that note – often after a long day at work – to the post office to claim your package.

And that was assuming you could get to the post office before it closed for the day. If not, you had to try another time.

Special delivery for… oops it’s gone

These days, packages are usually left on door stoops or porches by a variety of services. U.S. Postal Service, Fed Ex, UPS, etc. That’s assuming it’s not something you have to sign for.

While it’s much more convenient to have a package waiting for you when you get home instead of having to rush to the post office, there’s a downside.

And that downside has become known as the porch pirate. These thieves are everywhere. Lower class neighborhoods, middle class neighborhoods, upper class neighborhoods… you name it.

These lowlifes do very little all day other than drive around, looking for packages left in front of homes. They then steal them and keep the contents for themselves, use them for their own gift-giving or sell them.

$25 million is at stake

Of course, this time of year is the prime season for porch pirates. The holidays mean many more deliveries. And many more times when homeowners are not home.

Jose Holguin-Veras is an engineering professor and director. He works for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems in New York.

In the time it took you to read that mouthful, several packages were probably stolen off the porches of Americans. He says more than 1.7 million packages are stolen or go missing every day in the U.S.

Those stolen or missing packages result in $25 million in lost items and services. 

Disappointing children, endangering the elderly

The people (and I use the term loosely) who engage in this activity probably give no thought to whom they rip off.

Like the little girl who asked Santa for a certain Barbie doll. Or the boy who asked his parents for a certain video game. Or the elderly couple who receive their medications in the mail.

Short of hiring a guard to watch your front porch, there’s little you can do to stop this thievery. Or is there?

Some homeowners are getting creative in the ways they teach porch pirates a lesson. 

Dirty diapers and deafening detonations

One homeowner in St. Louis, Missouri intentionally left a box on her porch recently. The thief was probably not amused when he found it filled with soiled diapers.

A West Virginia man rigged a 12-gauge shotgun primer to go off when someone tries to lift a box off his porch.

The loud noise scares but does not harm the potential thieves. He claims to have startled 30 people trying to steal the box.

This reusable box has become so popular that it is now mass produced and sells for between $40 and $90.

Glitter bomb stinks for thieves

Another way to thwart package thieves is the glitter bomb. This device sprays glitter on anyone trying to steal a box from your front stoop.

Some of these glitter bombs also spray a very unpleasant odor on the would-be thief.

Decoy boxes have been known to include dog feces, used cat litter and other waste material.

And when security cameras catch thieves in the act, the homeowner can post the video on social media and ask people to share it until the thief is identified and caught.

‘Bait Package’ gets results

In Oregon, the Washington County Police Department started a program called “Bait Package.”

Volunteers put boxes outside their front doors that have sensors and GPS trackers. When a box is moved, police receive alerts and dispatch officers to follow it.

As a result, thieves who assume they won’t get caught find themselves facing fines. Not to mention jail time if they’re on parole.

A deputy with the department said that a 20 percent drop in package theft has been recorded since the Bait Package program’s launch.

Keep your packages safe

If you live in an area where porch pirates are a problem, there are some options you might want to consider.

One is having packages held for you at your local post office. Another is making sure deliveries are not made without your signature.

You can also help out your neighbors by reporting suspicious behavior. Including vehicles that seem to be following delivery trucks.

Or, you could pull a prank on a thief by placing garbage in a decoy box. A potential downside, however, is angering someone who is already reckless enough to steal from you.

Hopefully more and more of these porch pirates will be exposed, embarrassed and punished. They deserve nothing less. 


  • Vicki Basham - January 21, 2022

    I use a UPS store for pkgs. Nutribullet won’t accept their address so I can’t buy from them directly.

  • donald garvin - January 30, 2020

    I myself recently had a package stolen off my porch I live in an apartment complex with 15 buildings that have apartment 102 so I do not know whether my box was delivered to my door or another one or two door this is what I did to fix the problem I have a pager that I’ve used in the past with a hospital that I work in I put a note on my door for the carrier to page me when they delivered the box then at least I know that the box was delivered to my door then if somebody is stealing it I have another method of catching them and getting them arrested since I’m in South Florida I use fishing line rigged to a real that clicks when they take the box then I go out and have them arrested hopefully this will prevent some porch pirates from stealing from somebody else hard paying worker

  • Spencer - January 30, 2020

    In addition to holding packages at the Post Office, companies like UPS, FedEx and Amazon have local business outlets that you can have the package shipped to. Check it out before ordering something. And ask family and friends to ship to those locations, also.

  • Guy - January 30, 2020

    I have a double whammy setup ! I have a front porch and Embedded in the wall of my house I have a game camera set to record 30 seconds of video when it detects motion, and also a motion detector that plays my voice saying

    " If you are a thief, you should smile because your mug shot has been taken for the benefit of the police and District Attorney. "

    I get smiles and waves from delivery personal and my letter carrier, and strangers abruptly freeze, and than pretend to be knocking on my door. ( they pretend because they don’t want to take the chance that I am home and would answer a real knock) and than they awkwardly leave. BUT I have not had any more packages stolen.

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