Buyer beware: porch piracy set to ramp up with holiday season fast approaching

Buyer beware: porch piracy set to ramp up with holiday season fast approaching

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TORONTO — You’ve been tracking your online shopping haul for days. It’s finally the day your package is set to arrive at your doorstep. But when you get home in the evening, the package is not there.

A recent FedEx survey shows porch thefts have risen over the last two years, with 28 per cent of respondents reporting they’ve had packages stolen by so-called porch pirates in the past. That compares to 24 per cent of respondents in 2022 and 20 per cent in 2021.

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Seventy per cent of surveyed respondents expressed worries about their unattended packages being stolen after delivery.

“It’s a natural concern,” said James Anderson, a spokesperson with FedEx Express Canada.

“It’s always in the back of your mind — ‘What happens with my package (when I’m not home)?”‘

Despite the increase in thefts, the survey found only seven per cent of respondents reported it to police.

“Look — you’re a victim of a crime. Contact the police,” he said.

Anderson also noted porch piracy increases during the holiday season in particular when more shoppers are ordering items online and getting them delivered.

“When shipping items purchased online, citizens are advised to use the delivery tracking app available,” said Carolin Maran, communications adviser with the Edmonton Police Service.

She also suggested shoppers ask the retailer or shipping service to deliver items to a more discrete location, such as the back porch or an alternative address where someone can accept the package promptly.

The FedEx survey showed the number of shoppers reporting porch piracy was generally consistent across the country, ranging from 26 to 30 per cent, except for Atlantic Canada, which reported the lowest percentage of package theft at 20 per cent.

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FedEx Canada, in conjunction with Angus Reid, surveyed 1,507 Canadians online between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5. A probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Barbara Agrait, an Amazon spokesperson, said customers should take advantage of order tracking, which is shareable with friends or family and includes photo-on-delivery and pick-up options to avoid losing a package.

“We know how disappointing it is for customers when porch pirates strike,” she said in an email.

Canada Post said its app allows customers to pick a safe location outside their home, such as the garage or a side door, or allow the parcel to be delivered to a nearby post office.

“We suggest to consumers when ordering online, they should make sure to read the retailer’s shipping details and choose the best option that works for them,” said Lisa Liu of Canada Post.

While insurance isn’t an option with FedEx, Anderson said customers should be honest about the value of their package.

“It’s very important for shippers to be as accurate as possible on the value of that shipment,” he said, “because that could affect the claims process.”

A video doorbell, meanwhile, could bring an extra layer of protection and peace of mind, Anderson added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2023.

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