So Your Package Got Stolen … Now What?

Packages are really easy to steal, but there are steps you can take to prevent financial losses and to help the cops stop further thefts.

Receiving a package has never been more convenient, and yet it’s somehow also more frustrating than ever. In the old days, packages would have to cross dangerous seas or roads and you probably just assumed there was a 75 percent chance that it would be stolen by pirates or highwaymen (aka “land pirates”).

So if the package arrived at all, you would consider yourself lucky. These days, there are fewer outlaws pulling off heists by riding their horses up to FedEx trucks or lassoing passing delivery drones. And yet, receiving an important package still feels like such a chore. It’s certainly the most stressful thing you can do while waiting on your couch. And if it’s a package you have to sign for, you’ll have to just hope they come during the time they say they’ll come.

On the other hand, if the package is just left on your stoop, it could be stolen. And it’s not necessarily that uncommon. With everyone sending and receiving more packages than usual due to the holiday season, we thought it’d be good for folks to know what’s up.

Packages are low-hanging fruit for thieves.

“Do you realize how easy it is for a thief to nonchalantly traipse up to your front stoop, remove the package that’s sitting there, and bring it to his nearby parked car without anybody noticing?” warned Security Awareness Expert and CEO of Safr.Me Robert Siciliano (@RobertSiciliano). “At night time, this is even easier and less risky.

“Professional thieves have been known to allot a few hours solely for the purpose of driving around the city, knowing that sooner or later they will spot a parcel delivery truck. They will then follow the truck to see where the driver will make the next package delivery. They’ll then sit outside in their car to see if anyone at the house notices the delivery or responds to the doorbell. After the driver leaves, and after some time has passed, the thief will conclude that nobody is home and will steal the package.

“Sometimes crooks will drive around neighborhoods, not following any trucks, just to see if there are any packages sitting by doors. The package may contain something worthless to the thief, but often, it contains something he can resell or use himself.”

So it’s quite possible that your package could be stolen. And let’s say it was. So your package got stolen… now what?

First, make sure it was stolen.

You’ll want to act fast if you suspect your package is stolen. But you also don’t want to overreact. That’s why you should quickly make sure your package was actually stolen.

“Sometimes packages are delivered to the wrong address,” explained criminal defense lawyer Ambrosio Rodriguez (@aer_attorney). “Delivery people have hundreds of packages to deliver in a single day and make mistakes from time to time. Check with your neighbors to see if your package was inadvertently delivered to them. This can save a lot of time, energy, and false accusations of theft.”

Now that you’re pretty sure it’s stolen, what’s next?

Start making some calls.

Even if the website says it was delivered and it doesn’t seem to be with your neighbors, it can still be worth reaching out to the delivery company, just to be certain.

“Contact the parcel service,” suggested Rodriguez. “Your package may have a tracking number or information that can be used to pinpoint its specific location. Check with the parcel service to determine the last known location of the package. If it was stolen, this could offer invaluable insight into who may have swiped it.”

You would probably also like to avoid paying for said package if you aren’t going to actually get it.

“If your package is stolen, the first thing you should do is report it to the credit card company that you used to pay for the purchase,” advised Washington DC attorney Thomas J. Simeone (@SimeoneMiller). “They may provide purchase protection that will compensate you for the value of the package. They may require you to first report the theft to the police, so you may want to do that first.”

Speaking of the police…

Law and Order: Stolen Package Unit.

In the criminal justice system, sometimes packages are stolen. The people who investigate those crimes can be reached out to if your package is stolen. This is that story.

“If none of the other steps have yielded results, the best thing to do is contact the local police,” advised Rodriguez. “Officers will visit the scene and conduct a preliminary investigation. They’ll complete a police report which can be helpful in the future, especially if you consider legal action. The report can preserve evidence and details that will be invaluable to civil and criminal cases.”

Check the tape.

There are some advantages to living in a world that’s slowly turning into a cyberpunk dystopia (only with fewer rad mohawks and more unboxing videos). For example, the fact that there are cameras all around us now might make it easier to find out what happened to your package.

“Security cameras are everywhere,” Rodriguez told us. “If you have a camera installed in your own home, check the footage to see if there’s evidence that your package was lifted. If you don’t have cameras, check with neighbors and local merchants. Red light cameras operated by a local city or municipality may even be able to offer some insight into a theft.”

If the police are involved, you can offer to show them whatever footage you can find.

Place a claim.

Even if you can’t get your money back for the lost package directly, you may still be able to get reimbursed in other ways.

“If you can prove that the package was stolen while on your property, which may be possible due to order tracking software the delivery companies now provide, then you may be able to make a homeowners claim for the value of the property,” recommended Simeone.

“This can also be done through a renter’s insurance policy.  Again, they may require a police report, so you may want to start there.”

And now for next time.

Of course, the best package defense is a good package offense. What does that mean? We’re not sure. But there are steps you can take to reduce the odds of your package being stolen next time.

Here’s a list of protections Siciliano suggests:

  • “Make sure to get the tracking number for all deliveries.
  • “Require a signature with your delivery, even if that means you may miss the first few attempts.
  • “Take that one step further: Require that the delivery person first ask you your name, rather than say, “Are you, so-and-so?” There’s the case of the delivery person who went to the wrong apartment number in a building and asked the woman who answered, “Are you, so-and-so?” She said yes, signed, and took the item—a pricey food processor that was meant for a neighbor.
  • “If you can’t arrange to be home during the delivery, the service can leave your package at a local shipping center.
  • “If that’s not an option, ask the service to leave the package somewhere on your property where a roving thief won’t spot it.
  • “Another option (depending on where you live) is for the delivery to be left at your condo or apartment building’s office.
  • “A very visible surveillance camera, along with the security company’s sign near your door, will likely deter theft.
  • “The bottom line is to avoid having packages left at your door, and this includes any packages you yourself leave for someone to pick up.
  • “Sending a package? Insure it.”

You can’t guarantee you’ll never lose a package again. But with these tips, you’ll be able to save yourself from the worst of the package pinchers!

Just because someone isn’t literally stealing your stuff, that doesn’t mean they have your best financial interests at heart. That’s why we so often write about how people should stay away from predatory lenders hocking short-term bad credit loans and dangerous no credit check loans like payday loans, cash advances, and title loans. To learn more about keeping you and your stuff (including your money and your identity) safe from ne’er do wells, check out these related posts and articles from OppLoans:

What are your best tips for preventing package theft? We want to hear from you! You can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Ambrosio Rodriguez (@aer_attorney), a graduate of Georgetown Law School, is a criminal defense attorney with The Rodriguez Law Group in Los Angeles, CA. He has more than two decades of legal experience, including 13 years as a Senior Deputy District Attorney.
Robert Siciliano (@RobertSiciliano) is a #1 Best-Selling Author and CEO of Safr.Me. Safr.Me is funny but serious about teaching you and your audience fraud prevention and personal security. Robert is a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla Staff Officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security whose motto is Semper Paratus (Always Ready). His programs are cutting edge, easily digestible and provide best practices to keep you, your clients and employees safe and secure. Your audience will walk away as experts in identity theft prevention, online reputation management, online privacy and data security.
Thomas J. Simeone is a trial attorney and managing partner at Simeone & Miller (@SimeoneMiller). Mr. Simeone appeared on MSNBC in regard to a client of his who filed a civil rights action against the Library of Congress. He has appeared as a legal commentator on Fox News on several occasions. He appeared in the Washington Post in regard to the settlement of a federal class action suit brought on behalf of disabled persons and on WJLA Channel 7 and Univision in regard to a wrongful death case he filed on behalf of two unarmed men who were shot by an off-duty police officer.

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