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Porch Piracy and the Coronavirus 2020

Without a doubt, the Coronavirus Pandemic, its correlating shutdowns, and stay at home orders have disrupted our lives. Amid the fear and panic, we see resilience and the necessary resolve to carry on. We are working from home, teaching at home, having video conferencing birthday parties, game nights, and chats with family. We are also shopping online from home more than before. As we have seen retail sales drop by 8.7% and 16.4% in April and March respectively ‘E-commerce spending in the U.S. is up more than 30% from the beginning of March through mid-April compared with the same period last year,’ according to Rakuten Intelligence.

Some of the shopping is to stock up on the staples not found at the store. Much of the sales, though, have been for merchandise we have wanted to do, but our busy lifestyles stood in the way; or for comfort items to help us cope with the situation. Books and games are a great example of this; there has been a 777% increase in book sales and 182% increase in game and toy sales. All this online buying activity has led to holiday level package delivery volumes creating an opportunity for the nefarious porch pirate thieves to strike even harder. Keep in mind, with an average cost of $109.00 to replace a stolen item, porch piracy can have huge repercussions.

In our 2019 study of The Worst States for Porch Piracy, we outlined the states with the lowest rate of package theft search volume, the states with the highest rate of package theft search volume. This study is a follow up to last year, which states increased in stolen package search volume and which decreased in searches. 

In addition to state-by-state search volume, we examined if the recent coronavirus quarantine caused a change in nation-wide stolen package search volume. The main question we want to answer is, what is the effect of the coronavirus on porch piracy, has there been an increase in the number of packages stolen searches in April and March of 2020 compared to the same months in 2019?

First, let us look at how this year’s numbers compared to last year’s for each state. We have taken the number of monthly searches according to Google Ads for terms suggesting package theft. The following words were used:

‘Amazon Package Stolen’

‘FedEx Package Stolen'

‘Stolen Package’

‘UPS Stolen Package’

‘USPS Stolen Package’

We added these results and accounted for the state population size by calculating a standardized monthly rate for every 100,000 people. These calculations allow us to rank the fifty states for their levels of package theft search volume. Here is the updated chart of states with the lowest rate of package theft search volume for 2020.

Porch Piracy Lowest Package Theft Search Volume

Here are some notable changes in the top 25 lowest rates of package theft searches (ranks 50th to 26th ). While most of the states remained in the list, some have moved around, and a new state made its way into the list. The new inductee is Arizona kicking Hawaii out of the list. Like 2019, Mississippi and Alabama remain at the top of the list for the lowest package theft search volume per capita.

Porch Piracy Highest Package Theft Search Volume

Let us take a look at some changes in the 'States with the Highest Rate of Package Theft Search Volume' chart. Both the number two and three spots have changed from last year. New York moved up four spots to make the 2nd highest state per capita for package theft search volume. Massachusetts also moved up a spot from last year to round out the top three. Two of the states with the highest search volume per capita have populations of more than six million people.

Due to the current situation around the world, we now want to examine porch piracy and the coronavirus quarantines. What, if any, is the increase in search volume for
stolen package related terms during the coronavirus pandemic compared to the same months in previous years?

National Search Volume

Most states began coronavirus quarantines in March of 2020. There was an increase in March 2020 search volume, but nothing abnormal to growth in February 2020. We see that in April of this year there was a 45% increase in search volume for terms related to the five stolen package terms above. In contrast, there was an 18% increase between April of 2018 and April 2019. The level of growth in the year-over-year search is substantial for April 2020 compared to other months in 2020. The substantial gain for April year-over-year search does seem to indicate increased levels of nationwide stolen package searches in April 2020. When coupled with the sizable search increases in May and June of 2020, the numbers are obvious porch piracy during the Coronavirus pandemic has increased. People are searching online for what to do and how to issue a claim.

Similar to last year, we like to provide a list of preventative measures that will help reduce the risk of porch piracy for your items.

1. Deliver to a commercial address or dropbox possible. Most carriers will not leave packages outside of a business address after hours. They drop off packages inside, eliminating the risk of theft. A lockbox will help ensure packages do not get stolen while waiting for pick up.

2. Signature required for delivery. Some companies charge extra for this option, but the additional $2 can be well worth the investment. We recommend choosing this for any higher value items.

3. Ship expedited delivery. Most shipping companies guarantee expedited packages by a specific time of day. Have the shipment come when you know someone will be home to collect it.

4. If theft has occurred repeatedly, invest in a security camera to get visual evidence and pursue legal action.


For a reference sheet of all statistics, click here.


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