Porch Piracy or Package Theft – It’s All the Same

Porch Piracy or Package Theft – It's All the Same

‘Porch piracy’ is a term we have all become pretty accustomed to. There has been some pushback by folks who would prefer the term ‘package theft’. It works well enough. But whether you call it porch piracy or package theft, it’s still the same crime. It is a crime that affects millions of people annually.

Vivint recently released a report detailing the nation’s 10 worst cities for porch piracy. They looked at a combination of crime statistics, news reports, and other data sources to figure out where package theft is most rampant. The results probably won’t surprise you.

We will get to those results shortly. But first, why does porch piracy seem so prevalent? Why does it continue to be a serious problem in major metro areas, mid-sized cities, and small towns? It boils down to three things.

Why Porch Piracy is So Prevalent


Never forget that thieves are criminals of opportunity. They look for easy opportunities to do what they do and, if they find them, they act on them. The fact that porch piracy is so prevalent suggests that criminals have too many opportunities to commit the crime.

Here are the three things that work to the criminal’s advantage:

1. It is Easy to Pull Off

Unfortunately, package theft is incredibly easy to pull off. It is a crime that takes mere seconds to complete. You don’t need any special tools or advanced skills. All you need is a target and the willingness to walk up and steal a package in broad daylight. Anyone with a little moxie can do it.

2. Consumers Are Careless

The fact that porch piracy is so easy to commit is partly due to the fact that consumers are careless. We all know that packaged thieves are out there. We all know they are stealing hundreds of millions of packages annually. And yet, how many of us make the effort to stop the crime before it happens? Most people do not actively fight porch piracy until they are victimized by it.

3. The Online Shopping Bonanza

The first and second reasons are made possible by the third: our love of online shopping. Let’s face it, shopping online is easy and convenient. We can order whatever we want and wait for it to be delivered to the door. No more trips to the mall or strip plaza. No more trips to the crowded department store.

Unfortunately, every increase in online shopping brings a commensurate increase in the number of packages available to thieves. So as more people shop online, there is more opportunity to steal.

Where Porch Piracy is Worst


Getting back to the Vivint report, you are probably dying of curiosity. You want to know where porch piracy is worst in the U.S., so let’s get to the numbers. The worst city for porch piracy is none other than San Francisco, CA. According to Vivint, San Francisco’s crime rate is higher than 93.3% of all U.S. cities.

Things are so bad in San Francisco that one Amazon delivery driver witnessed a food delivery driver steal packages off of a porch immediately after delivering food next door. Amazing, but true.

Here are four more cities that round out Vivint’s top five worst locations for porch piracy:

  • Seattle, WA.
  • Austin, TX.
  • Los Angeles, CA.
  • Fresno, CA.

Lesser-known cities like Milwaukee, WI and Portland, OR are also on the Vivint list. I don’t bring this up to criticize these cities or attempt to interject politics into the discussion. Rather, the point is that porch piracy happens everywhere. Whether you call it porch piracy or package theft, the crime does not discriminate by geographic location.

Steal Now, Ask Questions Later

Careful observation reveals that porch piracy is not a highly sophisticated crime. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to pull it off. Generally speaking, the strategy among package thieves is to steal now and ask questions later. Just grab the packages and go. Later on, you can open them up and see what you’ve got.

Package thieves bank on the fact that most of what they steal will have value on the black market. They are banking on the fact that they will get their hands on plenty of small electronics, high-demand fashion items, hand tools, expensive kitchen gadgets, etc.

Sometimes they don’t get something worth selling on the street. It is just assumed they throw it away. But that doesn’t mean what they have stolen has no value to the victim. Everything purchased online has value for the person who bought it. And sometimes, the value isn’t measured in dollars and cents.

I remember a story from early 2024 detailing how an Oklahoma victim lost invaluable, lifesaving medical supplies to a porch pirate. The stolen items were used to treat a rare disease. They had no value on the street, but they were necessary to keep a child alive.

Think Like a Thief


Porch piracy or package theft – it is all the same at the end of the day. Those who would commit the crime care very little about the victims. No porch pirate is suddenly going to have a bout of guilty conscience and stop stealing midstream. So it’s up to us to do what we can to protect ourselves and our packages.

You have heard all the strategies before. They start with installing a doorbell camera or some other means of exterior video surveillance. That is a good strategy, but you probably want to do more than that. Porch pirates are beginning to look past cameras. They are not the deterrent they once were.

Using package lockers or arranging to have deliveries sent to a neighbor’s house is a better strategy. The best way to prevent being victimized is to arrange things so that packages are never left unattended on your porch. Without packages on porches, there is no porch piracy. Making alternative delivery arrangements will stop porch piracy in San Francisco, Seattle, and every other city and town.

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