CHICAGO — It’s the most wonderful – and most tempting – time of the year for porch pirates looking to dampen the Christmas spirit.
As more packages are delivered, often depicting the contents inside, some say thieves are more enticed to steal. It’s why porch pirate victim Pam Pekoc offered a warning to Chicago residents.
“As far as electronics, I would go get it and not have it delivered,” Pekoc said.
Pekoc is not the only family member who has fallen victim to porch theft.
“There have been a couple of things that said they had been delivered, a picture was sent to the telephone and they were not there, so we’re assuming they got taken,” said Pekoc’s sister Caroline Rothegeb.
According to a recent SafeWise.com study, within the last year, 64.1% of Americans were victims of porch theft — an estimated 210 million stolen packages.
WGN has recently learned of complaints about more deliveries, with some referred to as “naked packages.” WGN captured a flat-screen TV dropped off on an area porch showing anyone walking by precisely what was inside.
Dr. Ben Stickle, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Administration at Middle Tennessee State University, is a porch piracy expert. Stickle connects the trend to supply chain issues cutting costs, and more people shopping online than traditionally.
“This is a trend we’re probably seeing that’s growing and may continue,” Stickle said.
Dr. Stickle says more retailers are turning local stores into shipping centers to keep up with the demand.
“So what used to come from a fulfillment center that might have a box to go on the outside, many times, in some cases, we have individual retailers who are picking an item off the shelf and directly shipping it to you, in some case, without and additional box,” Stickle said.
According to the SafeWise study, more than 50% of packages that porch pirates steal are from Amazon, followed by FedEx and USPS. But one way to protect your valuables is through a secure lockable safe, says DeliverySafe co-founder Mike Vig.
“DeliverySafe is unique in that it’s insulated,” Vig said. “It also comes with ice packs where you can keep your groceries and meal kits fresh while you wait to get home.”
Vig said DeliverySafe uses 60-pound steel boxes to protect items shipped.
“Wait for the keypad to unlock, pop it open, and then you can just grab your packages out and take them inside,” Vig said.
How does a delivery person unlock the safe? Vig says it’s as simple as indicating your security code on your shipping profile.
“Here is my code. Please put my packages inside the DeliverySafe. It’s really simple,” Vig said. “You just do it one time, then every single time the delivery person comes, they see it on their instruction on their handheld.”
Although Pekoc and Rothegeb say they’ve yet to receive a “naked package,” Rothegeb says she just might do something a bit sneaky to deter thieves from taking any more of her online purchases.
“I clean up after dogs in the yard daily,” says Rothegeb, “so I’m thinking maybe I should make a decoy package for someone.”