Porch pirates: What to do if you’re a victim of a package theft

GLENDALE -- We've heard a lot about so-called "porch pirates" this holiday season -- also known as thieves. But what are your options if a package has been snatched from your doorstep? The answer often depends on who shipped it.

The person who stole a package from Rich Greene's front step didn't notice the camera or the sign.

"So we looked on Amazon. It said it had been delivered. There was a photograph of it being delivered," said Greene.

Greene's video shows a woman, who approached the house and walked away with the box. Inside was a $30 jacket.

"I don't know why someone would do that, but I feel sorry for people who have to live that life to give a Christmas gift or behave like that," said Greene.

Amazon has no hard policy on stolen packages, but often will provide refunds, send a replacement or send an Amazon gift card instead.

Rich Greene

"Amazon was really helpful. They gave us a refund immediately," said Greene.

But when it comes to stolen packages, there's no guarantee you'll get your money back.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) advises customers to file a complaint with the United States Postal Inspection Service and says, "While we can't guarantee we can recover lost money or items, your information can help alert postal inspectors to problem areas and possibly prevent others from being victimized."

If you have a missing package, major shipping companies ask that you file an online complaint. USPS officials told Contact 6 they investigate lost packages. If yours cannot be found, file a claim for the value of the missing items. You will need documentation.

Milwaukee police confirmed they're investigating Greene's stolen package and seeking a suspect.

"This behavior isn't how we should live together and that's really the big thing for me," Greene said.

Another free option for Amazon shoppers is using an Amazon locker instead of doorstep delivery. They're scattered throughout the area. Amazon will text you a digital code to open the locker and you can go pick it up.

Tips to prevent from becoming a victim of package theft

Information from UPS

Regarding stolen packages:

  • Here is information on the process involved with reporting a package that has been lost or suspected stolen: https://www.ups.com/us/en/help-center/delivery-issues/lost-package.page
  • If your viewers have reason to believe there was a theft involved, they should report it to law enforcement immediately. If asked, UPS will support investigations conducted by law enforcement.
  • While door cameras and technologies have brought package theft more to light in recent years, the fact is that a very small percentage of packages shipped in the U.S. are actually stolen. Annually, UPS delivers almost 5 billion packages in more than 200 countries and territories.
  • UPS drivers to the rescue! Check out this LinkedIn post from UPS’s Chairman and CEO last week – it highlights two UPS drivers who were recognized by the Palm Beach County, FL Sheriff’s office for helping to track down some so-called “porch pirates.”

How to help prevent packages from being stolen (consumer tips):

  • A key thing to emphasize to your viewers is that they can help avoid stolen packages by taking control of their shipments using the UPS Mobile app, and the company’s MyChoice service, coupled with UPS Access Point locations.
  • Most important – have packages delivered to where you are, or will be, rather than to where you won’t be. In other words, if you know you won’t be home on a particular day, consider having your package delivered to a UPS Access Point location (description below).
  • UPS offers two free services that help keep packages from unintended hands.

UPS My Choice

  • Gives consumers more control over their residential deliveries.
  • Sends a text or email when their packages are on the way.
  • Enables recipients to redirect their packages to nearby UPS Access Point locations for pick-up at a more convenient time.

UPS Access Point locations

  • Convenient retailers such as delis, grocery stores, dry cleaners, florists and The UPS Store locations with evening and weekend hours.
  • Nearly 9,000 UPS Access Point locations U.S. provide about 78% of U.S. consumers an alternative to home delivery that’s within 5 miles of their residence.

Info from U.S. Postal Service (USPS)


Reduce the risk: Don’t leave your mail or parcels unattended: If you’re going away for a few days, and don’t want to risk leaving your package unattended, take advantage of the Postal Service’s Request Hold Mail service. Your package will be held securely at the Post Office until you're back in town.

Be a buddy—help a neighbor in need: If you have a stay-at-home neighbor, enlist their help. Ask to schedule your package deliveries to their address, increasing the likelihood of a safe pickup.

Take control of your package’s destiny. The Postal Service provides real-time tracking for a wide-range of products and services to help you customize your package delivery.

  • Monitor your package’s status from tender to final delivery on USPS.com. Registered users can also receive status updates via text alerts delivered to their mobile devices.
  • Personalize delivery providing specific instructions authorizing your carrier to leave your package in a specified location. Visit USPS.com, track your package, and select Delivery Instructions.
  • Redirect your domestic package prior to delivery, using USPS Package Intercept, available on most letters, flats and packages that contain a tracking or extra services barcode. You can have it held at a Post Office as a Hold for Pickup or sent to a different domestic address.
  • Schedule your delivery date, by using Priority Mail Express. It’s the Postal Service’s fastest domestic service (with limited exceptions), available 365 days a year. It guarantees a delivery date to better manage receipt.
  • Upgrade your package’s security to protect it every step of the way by choosing Registered Mail service—the Postal Service’s most secure form of mail delivery.

For more information on these products and services, visit USPS.com

Please report ANY suspicious activity immediately. If you notice an unfamiliar vehicle following behind the USPS truck or unknown persons hovering around mailboxes, report the activity to your local police department and local Post Office immediately.


If you think your package was stolen, please contact the local authorities. And you can contact the Postal Inspection Service to report mail theft at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/ReportMailTheft.aspx. By phone, please call 1-800-275-8777.

Info from FedEx

Any customer who suspects that a package has been stolen should contact police. We encourage our customers to sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager to help manage their holiday deliveries. Sign up is free at fedex.com/delivery. All year long we work with our drivers to be aware of their surroundings and report any unusual activities.

FedEx has more than 400,000 team members around the world dedicated to helping the holidays arrive. While we do our utmost to ensure the safe and secure delivery of every package, there are steps our customers can take for added peace of mind.

  • Consider an alternate destination. When you order something online, consider sending the package to your workplace or to a family member, friend or neighbor who is home during the day to accept delivery.
  • Send it to your nearest FedEx Office location. You can have your deliveries sent to the nearest FedEx Office location, and we’ll hold it for you for up to five business days. FedEx provides this service at no added cost. If it’s a FedEx Express package, you can also have your package sent to one of our FedEx Express stations. Find the location nearest you at fedex.com/locate.
  • Request a signature. Many packages today are sent without requiring a signature for delivery. If you’re shipping something of high value — or you just want to be sure items aren’t left unattended — you can require a signature for packages to be released. Only the shipper can make this request.
  • Sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager, which gives customers more power to customize home deliveries to fit their schedules. Sign up is free at fedex.com/delivery. With FedEx Delivery Manager, a customer has the following options:

o             Request to hold your delivery for pickup at a FedEx location.

o             Request special delivery instructions for the delivery driver such as leaving your package at the back door or a side door.

o             Reschedule your delivery time.

o             Request to reroute your package to deliver to another address.

o             Sign for a package remotely.

o             Request a vacation hold. Taking a holiday trip to visit family or friends? You can request a vacation hold on all shipments for up to 14 days.

o             Receive a delivery notification.

Info from Amazon

The vast majority of deliveries make it to customers without issue. In the rare case something occurs, we work with customers directly to make it right.

  • Amazon customers are able to track their packages on Amazon.com after they have placed their order.
  • Amazon Customer Service is available 24/7 to help customers with any matters related to their package delivery.
  • Amazon Lockers is an alternative for individuals who prefer not to have their packages left at a doorstep. Customers love the convenience of Amazon Lockers, which are strategically located near offices, major convenience stores, grocery stores, apartment buildings and malls across the country. To learn more, visit www.amazon.com/locker or find your nearest Locker at www.amazon.com/findalocker
  • Prime members in 37 cities and surrounding areas across the U.S. can access Amazon Key, the new service that radically improves the convenience of receiving deliveries. Amazon Key allows Prime members to have eligible packages securely delivered inside their homes without having to be there. Visit www.amazon.com/key to learn more.