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Beware Porch Pirates!

Scoundrels pillaging parcels from porches

It’s such a pain missing deliveries when we’re out isn’t it and many of us will opt for designating a ‘safe place’ where the parcels can be left if nobody’s home. This can often be an unlocked porch, a shed or garage where the postie or courier can access but the parcel will be out of sight. Safe enough you’d think wouldn’t you? Well, possibly not.

A new term – ‘porch pirates’ – has been coined for dirty rotten scoundrels who perhaps wouldn’t do something so bold as to break into your home but think scooping up potential items of interest from porches and sheds is perfectly fair game.

Some will be opportunists who just happen to spot parcels being left and some will just go round trying their luck; trying porch and shed doors and seeing a) if they’re unlocked and b) whether there’s anything there of interest they could take.

It’s not just parcels either: many keep their coats and shoes in porches and sheds are often a handy place to store gardening equipment or even bikes. Anything that can be re-sold is a viable target for a porch pirate.

So, what can you do to prevent a porch pirate raid?

The obvious thing would be to lock your porch up and either arrange for parcels to be delivered somewhere else (a trusted neighbour or at work) or accept that you’ll have to pick your parcels up from the Post Office or rearrange the delivery. However, if you accept that there is a risk in leaving your porch or outhouse unlocked, there are a few things you can do to minimise that risk:

  • Install CCTV
    These porch pirates are chancing their luck trying doors and they really don’t have any idea of the value of parcels that they manage to grab. The risk of being caught on CCTV for an unknown gain may be deemed too much. A visible CCTV system on the property may well be enough to deter them. You could even consider an additional camera inside the porch as well

  • Add a door chime
    Adding a door chime would mean that it would make an audible sound whenever the door was opened. This is quite useful if someone is in the house as they would hear somebody trying the door but it may also be enough to alarm the would-be thief, who would want to be as discreet as possible, and cause them to desist

  • Install security lighting
    Obviously this wouldn’t be of any use for those who attempt entry during daylight hours but may deter those who try doors under cover of darkness.  The last thing they would want is to be put under a spotlight just as they try their luck

  • Obscure windows
    The risk of someone entering to steal something is increased vastly if something that looks worth stealing is visible. Cover any windows or glass panels with curtains or blinds to prevent people looking in. If that’s not possible (eg if the porch is fully glazed) you could have a storage box or cupboard in there that parcels can be placed inside so at least they’re out of sight (many retailers and couriers will allow you to leave specific delivery instructions to this effect).

  • Install a door entry system
    You could employ some kind of door entry system whereby the porch can be accessed via a keypad. The code could be provided in the delivery instructions. You can also get smart door locks now that allow you to give access remotely. This may be excessive just to make sure you get your parcels delivered but the system could be as simple as a key safe where you provide the code to allow them to access a key. Bear in mind however that some delivery providers won’t allow their staff to do this and you are trusting them to put the key back properly

  • Booby trap the porch?
    OK, this is not really a serious suggestion but this what one NASA scientist did to vex those pesky pirates. He rigged up a dummy parcel as a glitter bomb. You can see his video here.

It goes without saying that internal doors should always remain locked (ideally with anti-snap locks) using a different key to the porch door. You should also make sure that there are no windows into the house within the porch or you could be giving someone cover while they take a long look into your home.

If you need any further home security advice, you can ring us on 01924 371941 or send us a message.