Thanks to the pandemic, stacks of packages are the new decor found on porches across America. The largest online retailer, Amazon, had sales grew 47% in the second quarter of 2020 due, in part, to the COVID-19 restrictions and warnings across the nation. During that time, people wanted to get their shopping done safely from home, which meant a ton of packages were delivered across the nation.
It’s not just Amazon that’s shipping packages, either. Ordering online from any website is incredibly convenient — you just click “buy” and wait for a package to arrive at your front door. The trouble is, thieves will often target the online orders left on your porch.
While online sales are up — so are missing packages. A small study of online shoppers found that “missing or stolen packages rose from 36% in 2019 to 43% in 2020.” The average value of the missing goods was $136. Fortunately, 81% of the people who reported missing packages received a refund, but that left almost 20% without their goods — and money. If you’ve had a package stolen from your porch or are concerned about it happening, here’s how to prevent order theft and file a refund or replacement claim for a stolen package.
[ Read: How Much Does Amazon Prime Cost (and Can It Actually Save You Money? ]
Ways to prevent others from stealing your packages
It’s far easier to prevent stolen packages than it is to get a refund or replacement. Do some companies, including Amazon, replace stolen packages? Yes, but not every online retailer makes the process as easy. It’s far easier to minimize your chances of theft instead.
If you receive packages occasionally, there are simple and relatively affordable steps you can take to reduce the risk of stolen packages, including:
Get a video doorbell
Video doorbells or small outdoor wireless cameras can help prevent theft in a couple of ways. These devices are fitted with motion sensors and high-definition cameras that will record when they sense movement on your front porch.
You can set up a notification so if the video doorbell or camera is activated by a delivery driver, you can grab the packages off the porch before a thief does. Should a package go missing, you’ll have clear footage of who stole your boxes to provide the authorities.
Install a delivery box
There’s a variety of locking package delivery boxes available for purchase that can secure your deliveries until you get home. These boxes are large enough for many types of package sizes and will come with a lock or combination so that they aren’t easily accessible.
These boxes conceal any deliveries, which may reduce the chances of someone spotting your Amazon order on your doorstep and swiping it. Plus, your orders will be secured with a lock and key until you access the box.
Leave clear delivery instructions
Most e-commerce sites have a box you can fill out while completing the purchase that lets you put in special delivery instructions. Be sure to include information about your delivery preferences, such as the best location to leave your packages. You may want to request the driver to leave your order on a back porch, side yard or in a planter, for example. You can also request a call when the delivery driver is on the way, or ask the company to not leave boxes on your front porch.
Sign up for package tracking notifications
The delivery services like USPS, UPS or FedEx have tracking notifications that you can sign up for. These notifications will let you know when a package is supposed to arrive and will also alert you to a package being delivered. The Amazon app also notifies you in real-time of how far a delivery driver is from your home.
You can sign up for email or text notifications of estimated delivery time and day on each of these sites, which will let you keep a virtual eye on your deliveries in real time. Follow your packages carefully and try to be home to meet the driver, or at least pick up the packages as soon as possible after delivery, to avoid them being snatched from your porch.
Have Amazon-specific packages delivered to a nearby lockbox
If you have higher-value orders or have had prior issues with an Amazon package stolen from the porch, opt for pickup instead of home delivery. Amazon has thousands of free, secured lockbox locations you can use. Many are open 24 hours per day so you can pick up your orders at your convenience. All you need is the order confirmation and scan code.
Go to the location, scan the code and the lockbox will open. If lockboxes aren’t available with the company you ordered from, you can request to pick up the order at the closest shipping hub instead.
[ Read: The Ultimate Guide to Online Shopping ]
What to do if packages are stolen from your door
If your packages are missing, report the incident right away. Amazon is the easiest company to file a claim with — and the process is pretty hassle-free. Other websites may require more documentation, but in general, you’ll be able to receive a refund or get a replacement for stolen packages.
Here’s what you need to do:
Track the delivery
The first step should be to confirm that the package was actually delivered. Using the tracking information, you may get details of when and where the package was left at your door. You’ll need this information to make a claim.
Check your cameras
Once you know the date and time of the delivery, review the footage from your video doorbell or wireless outdoor cams. You can confirm the package was actually delivered with this footage. You may also be able to see who was at your porch after the delivery or get a clear view of the person or persons who snatched the package from your doorstep.
Check with your roommates and neighbors
If the package was, in fact, delivered, be sure to ask your roommates, family members or neighbors if they collected your package for you. A good neighbor may have picked up the box to protect you from package theft or bad weather.
Contact the company
If the package was delivered and its whereabouts are unknown, contact the company right away to let them know your package is missing. The company will provide instructions on how to file a claim for a refund or help you navigate the process to receive a replacement.
File a police report
Depending on the company policy and/or the value of the order, you may need to file a police report. If you have evidence, such as footage from your video doorbell, be sure to provide it to law enforcement. You should also ask for a copy of the police report — you may need it as part of your claim.
File a claim
Fill out the form the online retailer provided you about the incident. Include any information or evidence you have regarding what happened, such as screenshots that no packages were left on your doorstep or photos of someone stealing your package if you have them.
If you’re having trouble getting a refund, contact your credit card company
According to the study referenced above, almost 20% of individuals who had stolen packages from their doors were not able to get a refund. If the ecommerce website refuses to refund your money or replace your stolen package, contact your credit card company. Most purchases made with a credit card will come with buyer protections in case your items are stolen. You may be able to get your money back through your credit card company.
You also have the option to file a home insurance claim
Insurance is designed for situations like this. If you’re unable to get a refund from the company or your credit card, you can file a claim for the stolen goods through your homeowners or renters insurance company. Keep this as a last resort reserved for higher-value orders. You’ll have to pay a deductible to make this claim — and your home or renters insurance could go up after filing a claim — so make sure you’re using it for something worth claiming.
[ Read: Online Shopping Is Too Convenient — So I’m Making It Harder on Myself ]
We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at [email protected] with comments or questions.