Every day 1.7 million packages are stolen or go missing off doorsteps across the country. This is higher than it’s ever been before, and it’s costing Amazon and other sellers Millions.
“Expansion of online retail has resulted in an expansion the crime of package theft, which brings you to something around 9 billion dollars a year in stolen packages. “——Nathan Richter(Senior Partner, Wakefiled Research)
In today’s fast-evolving landscape, a plethora of innovative solutions is emerging across the board – ranging from cutting-edge doorbell cameras and automated locks to the practicality of Porch lockers and diverse alternative pickup points. Big and small companies and everyday people are trying to stop the thieves.
We would like to find out who is loosing the most when a package goes missing, and what are Amazon and other companies doing to fight back?
The Cost of Package Theft
A 2019 survey conducted by insurancequotes.com found that nearly 1 in 5 Americans report having a package stolen, and according to a new study by seeing our research each stolen item costs an average of $109 to replace. A cost typically passed down to the seller, who’s responsible for the refund or replacement.
“A lion’s share of the loss is being absorbed by the entity doing the greatest amount of selling, which in this case is Amazon. “——Nathan Richter(Senior Partner, Wakefiled Research)
Amazon Prime members say they receive on average 51 packages at home every year, and all respondents spent an average of $222 a month on online orders. However, 42% of customers say they avoid buying expensive items online because of theft, meaning Amazon is missing out on even more sales revenue. In total, the thefts add up to more than 25 million dollars in lost goods and services each day.
“There are stories and anecdotes about well-organized thieves who follow delivery trucks and steal packages from porches. But most package thefts happen when someone walking down the street spots an opportunity and quickly grabs a package. ”
——Nathan Richter(Senior Partner, Wakefiled Research)
Wakefield research conducted a study on package theft in 2018 that was sponsored by Comcast which owns CNBC.
“In urban areas you see as much as 35%of adults saying that they’ve personally had package stolen, and a suburban area that figure is 20%and in rural areas it’s 13%.”
Safewise also conducted a study. It found the places with the highest rates of package theft are the Bay Area Salt Lake City and Portland.
“Between late 10 and 3 is going to be the busiest time and it’s usually time, when people are at work or at school or out running errands. The nicer neighborhoods and get packages stolen far more than what you would think are the reference ides of town, and I think because they’re going after the better booty.”——Rebecca Edwards(Senior Security Expert, Safewise)
Who is Responsible for Package Stolen?
So what happens when a package is stolen. According to seeing our research, victims will alert more than one entity.
- 83% contact Amazon or the seller,
- 60% contacts the delivery service
- 48% checked with neighbors
- Only 13%call the police
“So who is it that’s financially responsible for the loss. Your major sellers, your Amazon, eBay are replacing stolen goods. The shippers themselves largely aren’t incurring this cost. Now some like FedEx will offer $100 worth of default liability. You can purchase more the US Postal Service offers zero liability, but you can of course purchase more insurance but on the whole that that 9 billion dollars is being absorbed by the sellers. “
Even though it may seem like Amazon replaces your item immediately after a theft. If that item is sold by a third party, that’s who pays for the replacement or refund.
“In addition, reaching out to the carrier or shipper, might be an option, but be prepared for them to request reports once more from the seller. But your best chance is to go to where you bought it from and see if they’ll send you add another one.”
It’s up to the discretion of the seller whether they want to replace your item.
“When all is said and done, it is ultimately the consumer who bears the cost. Ponder on this: rates must inevitably rise; sustaining such losses simply becomes untenable.”——Lori Torres （Founder and CEO, Parcel Pending）
Although many police departments don’t track package thefts specifically, the numbers are definitely up, you can’t afford to keep having this type of loss. Denver for example saw a 68% increase in package theft from 2015 to 2018 because small retailers and huge sellers like Amazon are spending more on refunds and replacements every year. They’ve got a big incentive to stop the crimes.
Amazon Key and Lockers
One solution the e-commerce giant offers is an automatic front door lock system called Amazon key, available in 50 cities for free with compatible smart lock kits. It lets users unlock the front door remotely, allowing a delivery person entry into the home. Amazon key can also open certain garages and compatible cars, allowing packages to be left in a trunk. For example, and building managers can use Amazon key for business. Giving delivery drivers a smart fob with time limited access to drop off packages inside an apartment complex. However, C+R research shows that only 4% of package theft victims use Amazon key. That number may be low for one reason.
“Even though you can literally watch it in real time, the idea of unlocking your door for a stranger while you’re not there, so they can go into your home. I think strike some people as disquieting.”——Nick DiUlio (Analyst InsuranceQuotes.com)
And then there’s Amazon lockers. Packages are left inside these automatic electronic lockers for pickup at
- convenience stores
- grocery stores
- apartment buildings malls
- other locations
in more than 900 US cities.
Walker plus locations often on college campuses are staffed and can hold packages for up to 15 days.
Amazon also offers pickup in store at certain retailers, such as Rite Aid’s GNC health Mart and stage stores.
“We have 11% who said that they’re sending their deliveries to an Amazon Locker or a similar type of service, and then we have 10% who said that they use some sort of packaged lock box.”——Nick DiUlio (Analyst InsuranceQuotes.com)
These individual lock boxes like these from Kingsley Park are often secured to a porch where carriers enter an access code to leave packages.
“And then finally we have 18% of respondents said that they wind up sending their deliveries to their work address.”
Amazon says the vast majority of deliveries make it to customers without an issue, and that it’s customer service is available 24/7. With Amazon’s map tracking feature, customers can also monitor the real-time progress of their delivery when the driver is nearby. and four packages delivered by Amazon, it offers a photo on delivery. Of course not all online shopping happens on Amazon, so there’s also a variety of smaller companies offering electronic smart ockers.
“Fitting a canoe or a mattress into our lockers can be quite challenging, but apart from that, we routinely transport sizable items with ease using the spacious lockers and reliable tires.”——Lori Torrres(Founder and CEO, Parcel Pending)
Parcel pending has 4,000 Locker locations at retail and grocery stores companies and apartment Lexa’s in 48 states in Canada.
“We’ve been working with one a e-tailor who you know ships over 300 million packages, and they have talked about tens of millions of dollars of loss in packages, and so to put in a solution like an electronic Locker system. For them it’s almost a drop in the bucket because the loss in packages is not an insurable event for them. So they’re it’s coming out of their pocket.”——Lori Torrres(Founder and CEO, Parcel Pending)
Package Pickup and Tracking
When lockers aren’t an option, consumers often turn to more homegrown solutions.
“About a third of consumers will actually have a package delivered to a friend or have a friend or an neighbor or family member pick up the package. Some things are more extreme we actually found one in five I have taken a sick day or called it a PTO or vacation day to their employer. So that they could be home specifically to receive a package that they were afraid might be stolen.”——Nathan Richter (Senior Partner, Wakefield Research)
The carrier’s themselves now offer a solution too: skip porch deliveries altogether by picking up your package at a storefront.
“We’ve got between the UPS stores and then we announced a partnership with CVS, Michaels, Advance Auto Parts that the third one in there where receivers can say okay my packages delivered in those stores as opposed to their home. “——Kevin Warren( Chief Marketing OFFice, UPS)
UPS says it delivers around 20 million packages every day. And that 63 million customer shave signed up for it’s my choice program. Customers can schedule deliveries reroute packages or set their default package delivery location to one of 40,000 secure access points around the world.
“In the next year or so 90 to 95 percent of the U.S. coverage will be within five miles of a UPS access Point.”——Kevin Warren( Chief Marketing OFFice, UPS)
FedEx which says it delivers 15 million packages a day, has a similar program called delivery manager. It lets customers enter specific instructions for where and how couriers should make a delivery or lets you reroute a package for pickup at one of 14,000 retail locations, like FedEx office stores Walgreens Kroger’s and Albertsons.
“By 2026, we expect the growth to be roughly 100 million packages a day. So and we’re gonna have to have plans in place to make sure that there aren’t packages laying out on people’s front porches for hours or in some cases as if they’re not home.”——Bonny Harrison( Global Media Relations Director, Fedex)
USPS offers a service called Informed Delivery which it says has more than 21 million subscribers. It offers a snapshot of every day’s expected deliveries and allows subscribers to opt for a package to be held at a post office instead of being left at the front door.
FedEx, UPS, USPS and other carriers also offer package tracking. Although you can file a claim for missing packages if they were insured through the carrier, it’s typically not the carrier’s responsibility once it’s arrived.
“Once a package is delivered it’s out of our custodial control and so it’s really up to law enforcement to work directly with consumers on on any reported theft ”——Bonny Harrison( Global Media Relations Director, Fedex)
There’s a handful of outside companies like Tracker Sense and logistics that make one-time GPS trackers for packages. And then there’s startups trying to streamline the entire tracking process. LA-based Rout recently launched its app to offer one-stop shop tracking for consumers.
“You open up our app you see everything you’ve ordered from every merchant in a single map interface.”
——Evan Walker (Founder and CEO, Route)
Route says it’s algorithms can detect if a package is wrongfully reported as stolen, helping reduce loss for its 1,800 merchant partners. For a fee of one percent of the items value, Route will also cover the cost of a packages stolen.
“Once the carrier usually drops the package off on a porch the you know their job of delivering that it’s done and a lot of times that’s why they’re taking pictures now to show the proof that the package is actually delivered. We’re pretty alone on an island and cover porch pirating.”——Evan Walker (Founder and CEO, Route)
Doorbell cameras are now a common way that consumers try to protect their packages once they’re no longer the carrier’s responsibility. C+R Research found that 25% of package theft victims installed doorbell cameras, like the systems made by Boston-based SimpliSafe.
“Its making sure that we have that reliable, high-quality video footage, where you’re going to capture the face of the person on it, so that if somebody does steal a package, we can follow up on that. “——Chad Laurans(Co-founder SimpliSafe)
But doorbell cameras don’t only capture those with bad intentions.
“Their American flag that they had outside their front door had fallen down, and the moment captured on video was a neighbor walking by seeing that writing the flag and saluting to the flag before moving on on.”
If a crime is underway, SimpliSafe now offers real-time monitoring a video footage when an alarm is triggered and, can dispatch police to the home.
“They will know that this is not a false alarm, it’s not a waste of time. This is a really valuable use their time to catch a crime in action.”
“There’s a lot of controversy some people feel like that it’s giving a lot of access to Big Brother. But I think we all want Big Brother healthiness when it’s helping us recover from a crime.”
——Rebecca Edwards (Senior Security Expert, Safewise)
SimpliSafe’s video doorbell cost 169 and it offers a smart lock starting at $99. Competitor ring starts at 99.99 and Google’s Nest hello video doorbell starts at 229.
“The problem with that is you know you get a big picture of the bad guy and you see the bad guy walkaway with the package but what are you gonna do with the bad guy who’s gonna go after them and is the you know is anything really going to happen, and are you gonna catch the guy who took your item. Typically not.”——Lori Torres (Founder and CEO, Parcel Pending)
Screenshots of package thieves from these doorbell cameras often end up posted online in forums like next door, in hopes the community will recognize and stop the thieves.
Catching Package Thieves
More and more neighbors are taking matters into their own hands, from baiting thieves with garbage filled packages, boxes rigged to explode with blanks shotgun shells, or the infamous glitter ball packages planted by a former NASA engineer.
“We would want to encourage people not to take the law into their own hands and to go through the proper process of alerting police and not try to you know set anything up that could be potentially dangerous.”——Bonny Harrison( Global Media Relations Director, Fedex)
Carriers and law enforcement recommend filing a police report when a package theft occurs.
“When you see the same body type and just guys happening repeatedly in a neighborhood and you’re keeping that footage and you’re sharing it with local law enforcement. There’s a much better chance that you are going to catch someone.”
Still, even with a police report the chances of catching them are slim.
“It’s actually really quite difficult to find people who are doing this really unless you’re caught in the act.”
——Nick DiUlio( Analyst, InsuranceQuotes.com)
The Denver Police Department, one of the few that tracks package theft says it arrested seven percent of package thieves in 2018.
USPS says postal inspectors arrested almost 2,500 suspects for theft of mail and packages in 2018. The average value of a stolen package is far below what would constitute a felony. In California, for example the item needs to be worth more than 950 dollars, but in South Carolina a proposed defense against porch pirates Act would make it a felony. and in Texas lawmakers recently passed a bill that would find package thieves between four thousand and ten thousand dollars. with a possible jail sentence between six months and ten years. And some police departments have experimented with baiting thieves with packages and staking out doorsteps. The reality is as Amazon continues to bring more shoppers online, there are simply more opportunities for these easy simple thefts.
Amazon and other sellers are highly motivated to stop the huge losses incurred by package theft, which means the solutions are constantly improving from doorbell cameras tracking, and secure locations for package delivery.
“There will come a time when we look back at the way we handled e-commerce deliveries, and I think it’ll probably seem fairly primitive, but you just have these cardboard boxes sitting on porches, whether it’s things like the Amazon key or lock boxes. Technological innovation is so robust right now, and especially if you combine that within our opportunity for individual entrepreneurs to make money from solving this problem. I really think that it will be figured out to some extent.”
” I actually think it’s probably gotten a little tougher for criminals to steal something because there’s more attention paid to this consumer awareness on it is growing, which our data reflects, but you’re starting from a pretty easy position. This is not a difficult crime to it. ”——Nathan Richter( Senior Partner, Wakefield Research)