How Amazon Is Trying To Stop Package Theft

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 expansion in the crime of package theft, which brings you to something
around $9 billion a year in stolen packages. Now creative solutions
are popping up everywhere, from doorbell cameras to automatic locks,
porch lockers to alternative pickup points. Big and small companies and everyday
people are trying to stop the thieves. This is a custom built bait
package that is recording him on four different cameras and it’s about to unleash
a pound of the world’s finest glitter along with
some other surprises. We wanted to find out who’s losing
the most when a package goes missing and what are Amazon and other
companies doing to fight back? A 2019 survey
conducted by found that nearly one in five
Americans report having a package stolen. And according to a new study by
C+R 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. 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 in lost goods and services each day. There are stories and anecdotes out
there about more organized thieves actually following trucks and picking
packages up off of porches. But the majority of package theft
occurs from someone walking down the street, seeing an opportunity
and grabbing it. 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 a package stolen. In 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 like 10 and three is going to
be the busiest time and it’s usually a time when people are at work
or at school or out running errands. The nicer neighborhoods get packages stolen
far more than what you would think are the rougher sides of town. And I think because they’re
going after the better booty. So what happens when
a package is stolen? According to C+R Research, victims will
alert more than one entity. 83 % contact Amazon or the seller, 60
% contact the delivery service, 48 % checked with neighbors and only
13 % called 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. U.S. Postal Service offers zero liability
but you can, of course, purchase more insurance. But on the whole that
$9 billion 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. You can also contact the carrier, the
shipper, but they are going to try to get recourse again
from the seller. But your best chance is to go to
where you bought it from and see if they’ll send you out another one. It’s up to the discretion of the
seller whether they want to replace your item. At the end of the day, it’s
the consumer who pays for this because think about it, the rates
have to go up. You can’t afford to keep
having this type of loss. Although many police departments don’t
track package theft specifically, the numbers are definitely up. 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. 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 that 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 in to your home I think strikes
some people as disquieting. And then there’s Amazon lockers. Packages are left inside these automatic
electronic lockers for pickup at convenience stores, grocery stores, apartment
buildings, malls and other locations in more than 900 U.S. cities. Locker+ 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, GNC, Health Mart and Stage Stores. We have 11 % who said that
they’re sending their deliveries to an Amazon locker or similar type of service. And then we have 10 % who said
that they use some sort of package lockbox. These individual lockboxes 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 its
customer service is available 24/7. Amazon Map Tracking also allows customers
to view the progress of their delivery in real time when
a driver is close. And for 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 lockers. It’s really tough to put a
canoe into our lockers or a mattress, but other than that, we put tires all
the time, we take some pretty big items through the lockers. Parcel Pending has 4,000 locker locations
at retail and grocery stores, companies and apartment complexes in
48 states and Canada. We’ve been working with one e-tailer
who 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 it’s coming out of their pocket. 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 neighbor
or family member pick up the package. Some things are more extreme. We actually found one in five have taken a
sick day or called in 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. The carriers 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 to add a
third one in there, where receivers can say, okay, I want my packages
delivered in those stores as opposed to their home. UPS says it delivers around
20 million packages every day and that 63 million customers have signed
up for its 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 % of the U.S. coverage will be within five miles
of a UPS access point. 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, Krogers and Albertsons. By 2026 we expect the
growth to be roughly 100 million packages a day. So we’re going to 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 days if they’re not home. And 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. And 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 any reported theft. There’s a handful of outside
companies like TrackerSense and Logistimatics that make one time
GPS trackers for packages. And then there’s startups trying
to streamline the entire tracking process. LA-based Route recently launched
its app to offer one-stop-shop tracking for consumers. So you open up our app and
you see everything that you’ve ordered from every merchant in a
single map interface. Route says its algorithms can detect
if a package is wrongfully reported as stolen, helping reduce loss
for its 1,800 merchant partners. And for a fee of 1 % of the
item’s value, Route will also cover the cost if a package is stolen. Once the
carrier usually drops the package off on a porch, their job of delivering that is
done and a lot of times that’s why they’re taking pictures now to show,
you know, the proof that the package was actually delivered. We’re pretty alone on an
island in covering porch pirating. 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 install doorbell cameras like the systems
made by Boston-based SimpliSafe. It’s 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. 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, righting the flag and saluting to
the flag before moving on. If a crime is underway, SimpliSafe
now offers realtime monitoring of 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 of their
time to catch a crime in action. And there’s a lot of controversy. Some people feel like, you know, it’s
giving a lot of access to Big Brother. But I think we all want
Big Brother helping us when it’s helping us recover from a crime. SimpliSafe’s video doorbell costs $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 get a picture
of the bad guy and you see the bad guy walk away with the package. But what are you going to
do with the bad guy? Who’s going to go after him and
is anything really going to happen? And are you going to catch
the guy who took your item? Typically not. Hey, put that down. Screenshots of package thieves from these
doorbell cameras often end up posted online in forums like Nextdoor
in hopes the community will recognize and stop the thieves. More and more, neighbors are taking
matters into their own hands from baiting thieves with garbage-filled packages,
boxes rigged to explode with blank shotgun shells, or the infamous
glitter bomb 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 set anything up that could
be potentially dangerous. Carriers and law enforcement recommend filing
a police report when a package theft occurs. When you see
the same body type and disguise 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. The Denver Police Department, one of
the few that tracks package theft, says it arrested 7 %
of package thieves in 2018. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service
is your best bet. However, they were able to make arrests of
less than 1 % of the number of packages that are being
stolen per year. And that’s just arrests. It’s not
convictions and it’s not necessarily finding any of the lost loot. 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. 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 fine package thieves between
$4,000 and $10,000 with a possible jail sentence between six
months and 10 years. And some police departments have
experimented with beating 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. I think it’s our job to
continue innovating because there will be continued innovation on the
criminal side as well. 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 that you just have these
cardboard boxes sitting on porches. Whether it’s things like the
Amazon Key or lockboxes, technological innovation is so robust right now and
especially if you combine that with an 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 commit.

About the author


  1. I think when a delivery service: ups, fed ex, Amazon, etc leave packages out in the open in clear view from the street, no attempt to hide or even ring a door bell, I think it’s THEIR responsibility if the package is stolen. As stated, the vast majority of packages are stolen that are viewed from the street/sidewalk. I have plenty of places to hide packages near my front door, and most drivers leave it 3-5 feet away from my door, no attempt to hide it, and don’t even ring the doorbell (in case I’m home). Luckily I haven’t had anything stolen, but I do have neighbors that have.

  2. Really really sucks, I had a 2000$ piece of music equipment stolen this week, post office won’t cover, retailer won’t cover, I’m just out the money, it’s not fair

  3. I keep being surprised how in the US such problems exist that have been solved elsewhere. In Germany the default is that if you are not at home the package is brought to the nearest postal agent, where you can pick it up with the card left in you postbox. You can also agree beforehand for the package to be dropped of at a neighbor or at some out of sight place. It is not so complicated even Yankees could implement this.

  4. stop leaving packages on the doorstep 🤷🏼‍♀️ pretty simple concept. if people dont answer the door and accept their package, delivery driver needs to leave a notice card for customer to come pick up at closest pickup location.

    eliminate delivery drivers altogether except for rush deliveries (which must be signed for). put the drivers at the pickup locations instead.

    the idea that companies are setting packages on peoples front step and walking away is just the stupidest business practice literally ever.

  5. make pickup location partners in neighborhoods, let people/ families who are mostly have someone at home all the time to become pickup locations partner for a small fee, I don't mind paying an extra dollar to my neighbor for their effort to keep my package safe. Heck I will open one myself since I'm working from home and have free times watching these videos.. lol

  6. I had a package stolen and I could not find ANY way on the Amazon website to report a STOLEN package. I had it on video, and reported it to the police (who did not give a damn). But I 'ate' the cost because there appears to be no way to put in a claim on the Amazon website for a confirmed STOLEN package.

  7. I hid behind a fence and saw the guy that stole my packages 4 times so I unloaded like 20 paintballs on him nvr saw him agian

  8. The hub locker has been a dream. I’ve had 5 packages stolen and finally started using the hubs. It’s only a few blocks away and on my walk home from work.

  9. In South Africa they ring the bell, then call you and if you’re not home they will reschedule the delivery for a more convenient time or day

  10. What needs to be done is simple, Bear spray for package thieves. Hook up a can of bear spray and a pressure enhanced high rate of fire airsoft gun on a tilt and pan camera and a motion sensor. Add some spring up trip wires and well watered grass for extra fun. Leave them writhing on the ground for the police. Enough is enough.

  11. someone should put bait boxes and write notes in it like “you smell” or something like that lol. also would be a fun business idea, although i wouldn’t spend over $10 on it.

  12. I have a post office just a block from my house – I just have my packages sent there and pick them up at my convenience when I get the delivery notice by e-mail.

  13. Damn, never had a pacakge stolen in my life. Due to they never leave it outside door/house. If not home at the delivery they bring it to a checkpoint for pick up later. US, you are just lazy..

  14. Why don't they simply just take that package back to dispatch office and ask buyer to instead visit and pickup from there incase if buyer can't receive the package in person.

  15. The real lesson here is to stop buying junk. Put your money into something that generates a return, not something that's worthless after a couple of months/years

  16. Most of the solutions mentioned in the video work, because it's all reality in China. Pick-up stations, pick-up at grocery stores, sometimes they call you to make sure you are home to receive your valuable orders. If you are not they'll come back at another time that you choose.

  17. simple fix for Amazon, in my city if your not home, postie takes back the parcel to be collected from the Post Office.., problem solved, now Amazon pay me a zillion dollars in consultant fees..

  18. best way to stop it is to pass a law where they get caught and they get shot in public. Call it, get caught, get shot

  19. Hahahaha Amazon Key?! Are you effing kidding?! They listen to you, they track you, they watch you, resell your information, and now… they want a ficking key to your house?! GTFO!

  20. The delivery companies don't want to do the obvious, take the package back to the depot if the customer is not in. That cost would be passed onto Amazon etc and they know that package theft is cheaper than repeat delivery. Of course, that was before a small minority of people figured out that following a UPS/FedEx van around is an easy way to make $10k a day.

  21. Simple solution stop putting packages outside houses, here in UK we don't even have an options go have a item placed out side a door, it either goes to the house, a trusted neighbor or goes back to.the delivery company 🤷‍♂️

  22. Don’t even get why they would leave stuff at the door unattended? Where I live you can simply pick it up at the next post office or the delivery brings it to a neighbor and leaves a card in you postbox to inform you. This really seems to be a third world uhh American problem. Delivery service pay their employees badly and do worst possible customer service so that companies can sell expensive doorbells with a camera. Honestly sometimes I wonder how the us has brilliant minds while at the same time they have such problems that only exist in the US. Instead of building a wall how about to pass a law that forbids leaving packages unattended?

  23. Never use smart locks on your door or garage. now they are giving access to others. even more exploitable now
    I have parcel pending and still had a laptop stolen, why? well it's because the lockers were INSIDE the locked building… what's the point. lol

  24. The police really in my area don't care about this…… My neighbor caught a guy red handed stealing my packages, he calls the police, police tell them to let him go, because it's not his house and he doesn't know if I told that kid " to take my packages." Despite the kid having multiple packages from the street. Kid left with my packages and the stuff and the police did nothing. I called the police, and they said I have to call when it happens and even then I can't "detain" said person because its against their rights…..

  25. I don't understand why packages are left at doorsteps to begin with. In India or Philippines packages must be signed and received by somebody at home or an authorized neighbor. The shipping company contacts customers to arrange delivery when they are available. I bet it's much cheaper than 9 billion to call customers and ask when is the best time to deliver…

  26. This is honestly the kind of thing where the solution to a problem should not be monitoring those who take the opportunity or trying to deter them from taking it, but to not create the opportunity at all in the first place! Simply stop leaving packages in the porch when no one is home and the whole problem is solved.

  27. I don't believe in theft of a person's property but I certainly dont care if Jeff Bezos who is 150 billion loses 25 million a day. I'm admitting it's wrong but I don't care about Jeff Bezos the most disgusting man on the planet.

  28. In Europe, it is strictly forbidden for a delivery driver to sign the package himself and leave it in front of the door. How to solve the problem of stolen packages in America? Simple, teach your drivers to deliver packages, not to leave them.

  29. Somehow I feel this problem exists only in the 🇺🇸. When a courier come to drop a package, if nobody’s home they call and left a note at your doorstep. You can come pick it up later at designated drop point.

  30. In my neighborhood we’ve had packages at the door for long periods of time and never been stolen but I’m not surprised there is a lot of theft in Portland, it’s mostly junkies stealing them

  31. You probably can't jam the SimpliSafe camera but the other parts of the system can be jammed using a $20 ham radio on Amazon. Thieves could just keep keying that radio until all the home owners in the neighbourhood gets tired of the constant jam warnings and they can get away with it.

  32. Recently I ordered some items from Amazon and they were delivered to the house in the front of my apartment building despite the address being different. They sent me a picture of my neighbors side door, the guy basically tossed my package on a doorstep in a fenced area that is the home of an aggressive pug named Louis. I had to knock on the door that opens onto the driveway so that they could retrieve my package, my neighbors don’t speak a lot of English either. I live in a hispanic neighborhood.

  33. My girlfriend had enough packages stolen from her place that she has them sent to my house now; although she says that for her roommates the delivery guys are starting to hide the packages under bushes and behind fences and that that has helped.

  34. In Sweden you choose if you want your package dropped at your house and if you’re not home they just put it in the nearest pickup point. Problem solved.

  35. I love how they neglect to mention that UPS and Fedex charges you a fee for having your package held for pickup at a store. I would gladly have all of my packages delivered to a nearby store and pick them up, if they didn't charge a $6 per package fee. It would also be nice if they could drop off the packages early in the morning and not at 5:58 when the store closes at 6, forcing you to wait until the next day anyways.

    UPS and Fedex, Please listen. I would gladly sign up for a service that has all of my packages rerouted to a nearby UPS store or Walgreens and I can pick it up there first thing in the morning. It would save you guys a lot of money as you are offloading the worst part of the journey, the last leg, to someone else, and you can deliver packages even quicker. It would make my life easier because I don't have to stay in one place all day when I'm expecting a package because we all know perfectly well, when you step out for just two minutes, they manage to come in that 120 second window and put a Sorry we Missed you sticker on your door. Of course, the service would have to be free. Why charge me $6/package? It's saving you money! Charging me to save you money (and also charging the shipper residential surcharges, delivery area fees, etc, on top of that) is very dishonest.

  36. Since almost everyone now have smart phones, how about have a central delivery center give us a call 5 minutes before the package arrives, since drivers are reluctant to knock or ring the bell, no more missed deliveries and package sitting out in the open for hours. From there if I am not at home, can give specific instructions as to where to place it or schedule a different date.

  37. I can't get Amazon's min-wage deliverers to put the package BEHIND the huge columns I have in front of my front door so it won't be seen from the street. NO! Instead they insist on placing the package directly in front of the door, so it's EASILY seen from the street. THEN, only half the time, they send me a pic of the "delivered" package as if that does anything.

  38. Most of the time package theft is the fault of the delivery guy.

    When they leave a package on the outside of your gate its asking to get stolen. The delivery guys dont even try to set packages out of sight from the street. Then you have some expensive items shipped in its original box. Dewalt for example. How hard is it to put it in a slight bigger box with no branding? Its like they want everyone to see there is package there just so it can be stolen. The there is not being able to open your front door to get the package.

    I have a space behind my hedges on either side of my door made specifically for packages. They never put the packages there, even after being asked to do so many times. It bums me out because I thought it would be so obvious and convenient. I even have a sign says "Packages here"

  39. Amazon should offer insurance on packages for $2 so they aren’t responsible when someone’s package gets stolen and Amazon will have money to pay for stolen packages

  40. I was hoping Texass laws of porch pirates we'd be able to shoot them on the spot Oh well , Wishful thinking

  41. in Australia they are unable to leave a package at your doorstep. you have to collect them from a post office or directly from the delivery driver

    edit: this is due to Australia having a government funded postal service similar to health care

  42. my American customers would call to report that their package was stolen or they never received it because they're not home at the time the package was delivered, AND they are FULLY AWARE of the SHIPPING DATE AND TIME THEY EVEN track it, yet they refuse to pick up the items at local store. 🙄😒 Idk what to call them

  43. We generally stay home (if a package needs to be signed for) and we also keep an eye on our porch for packages. I got my new iPhone delivered to a UPS store. I didn't want it to sit on my porch or for me not to be home. 🙂

  44. Literally just make them send the packages to post offices and require having an ID and a code to pick up. This is what they do in Norway, I ordered my Vive, computer and other expensive stuff. Nothing stolen

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