The Worst States for Porch Pirates 2021
As we close out the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all had to adjust to the digitalization of modern living. Whether working from home, taking online classes, or hosting video calls for family gatherings, our resiliency and technology has helped us overcome many of the disruptions this evolving virus brings.
Shopping habits, it seems, are no exception. For many people, eCommerce has become the preferred method of retail purchases as it provides an easy, contactless alternative to brick and mortar stores. A recent report from Insider Intelligence forecasts a 13.7% growth in U.S. eCommerce sales, reaching $908 billion by the end of 2021. Unfortunately, the convenience of online shopping has also been a boon for porch pirates preying on our parcels.
The rise of porch pirates
According to a study from SafeWise and Cove Home Security, over 210 million packages disappeared off American porches in the last year alone. With USPS estimating between 850 million and 950 million more parcels shipping this holiday season, package theft will only increase as we enter the most plunder-full time of the year.
For the past two years, we’ve published an annual Porch Piracy Report on package theft search volumes. These studies aim to provide a rough outline of the lowest and highest rates of stolen packages on both a state and national level. We then cross-analyze the search data and compare current trends to the previous year to track where each state places in the ranking.
Before we dive into the results, let’s review the methodology. Utilizing Google Ads, we gather data on the average number of monthly searches for keywords suggesting package theft and where these searches take place. The search terms we used are:
- “Stolen Package”
- “USPS Stolen Package”
- “UPS Stolen Package”
- “FedEx Package Stolen”
- “Amazon Package Stolen”
We standardize this data on a per-capita basis to determine the monthly rate of searches per 100,000 people in each state, thereby accounting for each state’s total population. These calculations are subsequently used to track and rank the fifty states for their package theft search volume. Below are the updated charts for the 25 lowest and highest rates in 2021.
States with the lowest rates of package theft searches
This year, the state with the smallest package theft search volume was South Carolina, at a rate of 0.65 searches per 100,000 people. In 2019, South Carolina ranked third lowest, and in 2020, they ranked fourth. This improvement may be, in part, due to South Carolina’s proposed laws surrounding porch piracy, which threatens thieves with a five-year minimum prison sentence or 15 years probation if convicted.
Interestingly, the five states with the lowest search rates were all southern states, suggesting that the south is safer from porch piracy than northern states. Alabama remained in second place, as it has since 2019, with a rate of about 0.73. Tennessee saw a marked improvement, moving up from seventh place in 2020 to third place this year. Other states, such as Ohio and Arizona, witnessed an increase in stolen package search volumes, bumping them into the top 25 highest-ranking states for package theft searches.
States with the highest rates of package theft searches
Looking at the 25 states with the highest rates of package theft search volumes, we see far more changes when compared to previous years. For example, North Dakota, which was previously ranked as the ninth and twelfth highest in 2019 and 2020, respectively, has shot up to first place this year. On the other hand, Wyoming, which had the highest search rates for the last two years, has gone down to sixth place in 2021.
The only states to stay in the top five rankings for package theft search volumes were New York, which moved from second place in 2020 to fifth place in 2021, and Vermont, which increased from fourth to third place. This year, Alaska and California have moved into the top five, bumping out Massachusetts and Rhode Island by becoming the second and fourth-ranked states, respectively.
National package theft search statistics by year
The table above shows the total and year-over-year increase in search volumes. From April to June of 2020, there was a sizeable increase in stolen package-related searches, up to 88% in May. This represents the increase in eCommerce orders and the widespread outbreak of porch pirates during the first few months of the pandemic. However, as more people transitioned to remote work in 2021, we saw a drastic decrease in the volume of package theft searches, perhaps because more people were home to receive their shipments.
Tips to prevent package theft
As with previous years, we like to provide a few preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of porch piracy on your property.
- Provide detailed shipping instructions for delivery drivers to place your parcels in specific locations.
- Deliver your packages to a commercial address or lockbox if possible. This will allow carriers to drop off your order inside a safe location, eliminating the risk of theft while waiting for pick up.
- Expedited delivery options are a great way to ensure your items are delivered at a time when you can pick them up.
- Requiring a signature for each order means your package can only be delivered when you’re available to bring it inside.
- If you have the means, installing a security camera will provide you with evidence to pursue legal action against porch pirates.
To view a spreadsheet of the aggregated data, click here.