The Worst States for Porch Piracy
The exponential growth of online shopping has had a huge effect on the packaging industry and on society as a whole. It comes with numerous advantages for customers, including convenience, lower prices and greater product variety compared to brick and mortar stores to name but a few. This isn’t to say there are no downsides to the medium. One increasingly widespread problem – particularly common in the United States – is porch piracy. A study by Ring, seller of home security products, found that 19% of U.S. homeowners had been a victim of package theft, illustrating just how far-reaching this issue has become.
Discovery of this news got us thinking: where are the worst places in the US for porch piracy? Which times of the year are you the most (and least) safe? We endeavoured to find an answer to these questions, and to put together some tips for how best to avoid becoming a victim of the crime. Read on to find out more…
The State with the Highest Package Theft Search Volume
First, we focused on the ‘where’. In order to find the worst places in the USA for porch piracy, we used Google Ads to discover each state’s average number of monthly searches for terms suggesting that the user was a victim of package theft. These included terms such as:
• ‘stolen package’
• ‘amazon package stolen’
• ‘usps package stolen’
We compiled these results and accounted for state population size by calculating a standardized monthly rate for every 100,000 people. This allowed us to rank the fifty states for their levels of package theft. Let’s take a look at ranks 50th to 26th.
The state with the lowest rate of package theft search volume was Mississippi. This result could be partially due to the state’s high rate of neighborhood security – a study last year found that Mississippi had the 8th highest number of neighborhood watch programs in all of the US.
Interestingly, the four states with the lowest search rates of package theft (Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas came 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively) were all southern states. Maybe could suggests that the south is safer from porch piracy than the north. Now, let’s move on to ranks 25th to 1st.
The state with the highest rate of package theft search volume turned out to be Wyoming. This is a surprising result considering the fact that the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program found that Wyoming’s larceny rate fell by 6.5% in 2017. It could be that thieves are flocking from standard theft to package theft, not just because porch pirates are rarely caught, but also because the crime is often not reported by victims.
Wyoming was found to have the 2nd highest rate of package theft search volume while California had the 3rd highest. This isn’t particularly surprising in the case of the latter state – California had the highest number of cities appear in Shorr’s study on stolen Amazon packages out of all of the US states.
The Month with the Highest Packaging Theft Search Volume
Next, we delved into the ‘when’. We did this by using Google Trends data to find the level of interest for the term ‘package stolen’ every month from January 2014 to December 2018. We then totalled each month’s data and ranked them.
It will come as a surprise to no one that December came 1st. It’s known that delivery companies have to work flat out to meet the hugely increased number of online product orders that are placed in the lead up to the holidays. This, of course, gives thieves plenty more opportunities than in the rest of the year, hence why more people are searching terms like ‘package stolen’ in December.
2nd and 3rd place go to November and January respectively. Presumably the former is caused by people attempting get ahead of the game on their holiday shopping, while the latter is caused by the people who left their holiday shopping too late.
At the other end of the rankings, it seems that the time of year with the lowest interest in the package theft terms is May. It could be that, with spring nearing its end and summer about to start, people are savoring the improving weather by spending more time outside and less time inside shopping on their computers, giving porch pirates less opportunities for theft. That said, the fact that March and April, the other two spring months, finished in joint 10th puts things in a slightly different light. Maybe package theft terms have lower levels of interest in those months because people have spent a lot of their hard-earned money over the winter and are being a little more frugal in the spring.
Package Theft Tips
Finally, we came up with some tips of our own for how best to avoid package theft.
1. Leave detailed shipping instructions on the order. Pointing out specific places to put a package upon delivery can help drivers (if they pay attention to the instructions on the package).
2. Deliver to a commercial address if possible. Most carriers will not leave packages outside of a commercial address after hours. They drop off packages inside, eliminating the risk of porch theft.
3. Request a signature be required for delivery. Some companies charge extra for this option, but the additional $2 can be well worth the investment.
4. 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.
5. If theft has occurred repeatedly, invest in a security camera to get visual evidence and pursue legal action.
Have you ever been a victim of porch piracy? Let us know in the comments below. To see a spreadsheet of the data and the sources from which we collected it all, click here.