Matt Devereaux, Division President, Lennar Northeast Florida
As shoppers gear up for the holiday season, those who rely on online shopping could find themselves targeted by porch pirates. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping many shoppers at home, Americans are expected to spend more online this year when they purchase holiday gifts (at least a 13 percent increase over last year is expected). Many retailers have already announced they will not be holding in-store Black Friday events, suggesting they will be going all-in for online sales. But according to a new survey, nearly 40 percent of people have been the victims of porch pirates. If it hasn’t happened to you, it could, and homeowners need to be wary as the season of giving approaches. Follow these tips to keep your home and packages safe and secure during the holidays.
Install Security Cameras or Video Doorbells
Across the country, security cameras are helping people identify and track down porch pirates. The visibility of a security camera or doorbell camera on your doorstep may discourage gift thieves from stealing your packages. Research shows that theft is 300 percent less likely to occur when security cameras are installed. Another benefit of security cameras is that they provide you with evidence to identify your porch pirate in the event that you do get a package swiped. You’ll want a camera with high-resolution video that records based on motion. Look for a security camera with decent night vision as well, since the sun is setting earlier and your packages may be delivered in the dark.
Another option is to install a video doorbell. These are more discreet than larger security systems and will record video when motion is detected. With video doorbells, you can video-chat with visitors and keep an eye on package deliveries from the screen on your smartphone. One great example is the Ring Video Doorbell, which Lennar equips on all of its new homes. Our homeowners rave about this technology, with 1080HD video and two-way audio.
Install Automatic Light Timers
One of the best ways to protect your home while you’re away is to appear you never left. There are tons of options for automatic light timers that can do all kinds of things. Some know when the sun goes down and automatically light things up, while others are weatherproof and control all your outdoor lighting, fountains and other outside features. At Lennar, we install a Samsung SmartThings Hub for our homeowners, so they can control all smart lights and other smart devices remotely, wherever they are.
Upgrade Your Mailbox and Install a Delivery Drop Site
Another great way to ensure that a package won’t be taken from your porch is to make sure it isn’t left out in the open. Using a parcel drop box or dedicated delivery drop site is one of the most effective solutions for preventing package theft—and it will pay for itself when it prevents just one high-value package from being stolen. There are a number of lockboxes and secure parcel drops that can either replace your current mailbox or be added specifically for package delivery. You may even buy a new home that comes with a dedicated drop zone included, like Lennar’s newest NextGen homes.
If you’re considering getting a lockbox to protect your packages, make sure you choose a box that works with your space. Some might be too big, while others might be constructed to install in a way that doesn’t work for your home. You also need to let your delivery person know where it is, and how to open it if it’s locked.
Get to Know Your Delivery People
Not all safety measures are high-tech. Don’t forget about the power of networking when it comes to keeping your packages safe and sound. It pays to be on friendly terms with the drivers who make deliveries in your neighborhood. When you know your delivery person, that means that they also know your package preferences. You can let your delivery people know where and when you prefer to have packages delivered. And, they can recommend alternative options if you’re expecting a lot of packages when you’ll be away from home. Most delivery drivers have some discretion regarding deliveries. If something seems off at your home, a delivery person who knows you is more likely to leave you a notice about an attempted delivery instead of leaving your valuables at risk.
This holiday season, take every precaution possible to protect home and your packages from unwanted porch pirates. With more shopping conducted online than ever before, it’s important to keep your goods secure upon delivery.
Matt Devereaux is a Ponte Vedra Beach resident and the division president of Lennar Northeast Florida. To learn more, visit Lennar.com.
This is a column I drafted for Lennar Northeast Florida. It was submitted to the Ponte Vedra Recorder.