5 Ways To Protect Your Packages From Package Thieves This Holiday SeasonBy - 12/20/2018
Now that the holiday season is just around the corner, cases of package theft are on the rise once again. Package thieves, porch pirates, package grinches— whatever you want to call them— have to be stopped. And while we can’t all be Mark Rober, inventor of the glitter bomb package theft deterrent, there are certainly options that are more accessible and don’t require a background in advanced engineering.
1. Rakuten Slice App
Let’s start with an app that eases the process of tracking packages. Slice (by Rakuten Slice) is a package tracking app that is smart in more ways than one. It’s a free app available on Android and iOS devices.
1. Automatic Tracking
Let’s start with the pros.
First, you don’t have to input a tracking number everytime you want to track a package. As long as it’s sent by a recognized merchant or courier, the Slice app can automatically track your packages by scanning your inbox and finding e-receipts and tracking numbers. It recognizes order tracking emails from major online merchants such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Best Buy, and couriers like FedEx, USPS, DHL, and UPS. You can find the complete list of merchants here.
2. Realtime Tracking Alerts
Second, you don’t have to monitor the tracking page. Once Slice gets ahold of your package’s tracking number, it will send you push notifications when the package leaves the merchant’s warehouse, when it’s out for delivery, and when it’s delivered. By knowing when a package will arrive, you have a better chance of getting to the package before a package thief does.
3. Price Drop Monitor
Third, it monitors for price drops. If the price of a product you ordered drops within a couple of weeks of purchase, Slice will let you know so that you can request cash back. Slice will even draft the email request for you.
4. Keeps E-Receipt Copies
Finally, Slice keeps a copy of your e-receipts in case you need to return a product.
1. Privacy Risks
Slice’s method of retrieving e-receipts and tracking numbers might raise privacy-related concerns. Will the app “read” your emails? Unfortunately, yes. No person will read your email, but Slice’s algorithm requires access to and will go through your inbox and its content. When doing so, it looks for keywords such as order, tracking, or shipment to determine order confirmation emails.
One option is to create a separate email account exclusively for online orders and transactions.
2. They Share Data With Third-Parties
Another privacy-related concern is whether Slice will share your data with third-parties. Once again, the answer is “yes.” According to Slice: “We develop and share with third parties aggregated and anonymized market research and analytics about online purchasing based on Slice users’ transactions.” However, they assure that “such information will not include any personally identifiable information.”
2. Video Doorbells
Unlike the first entry, the second entry covers a much wider range of products: video doorbells.
1. Motion & Ring Alerts
The majority of video doorbells on the market offer motion and doorbell ring alerts, which means if someone drops a package on your doorstep, you’ll get a notification. The same thing happens if someone approaches your home to try and take your package.
2. Video Monitoring
With a video doorbell, you also get to watch what’s going on in real time while some will even let you go back in time to view recorded events. Not only can you watch over how your delivery person handles your packages, but you can also keep an eye on the package until you’re able to retrieve it.
3. Two-Way Voice
Another helpful video doorbell feature is two-way audio. This is my personal favorite because you can use it to instruct the delivery person where to leave your package or use it to yell at a package thief.
1. Getting A Video Doorbell Could Cost You
Unlike the Slice tracking app, video doorbells aren’t free. The cheap ones sell for as low as $70, but I don’t recommend going cheap. In our experience, they’re often buggy and unreliable. Decent video doorbells sell for $100+, such as the first generation Ring Video Doorbell. High-end video doorbells are priced $200 and up.
On top of the hardware price, you should also consider the long-term usage cost incurred by adding essential features like cloud recording. For example, a Ring Protect plan is $3 per month for each Ring video doorbell or camera.
2. Technical Hurdles
Installing a video doorbell could also be a tall task for average consumers, especially those that must be hardwired to an existing doorbell wire. And of course, there’s often drilling involved.
3. So Many Options
Choosing the right video doorbell for your home is another hurdle as there is a sea of choices. Even we can’t recommend a single video doorbell that would work for every house. However, I suggest you get started by taking a look at how our two top picks, Ring and Nest Hello, compare to each other.
3. Arlo Smart Package Detection (Beta)
If you’re an Arlo camera user, you can take advantage of the package detection feature, currently in beta. You can access this feature by subscribing to Arlo Smart (as low as $2.99 per month per camera or $9.99 per month for ten cameras).
Package detection uses computer vision algorithms to detect if there’s a package being delivered to your doorstep. This will also be presented to you via push notification which distinguishes between packages, animals, people, and cars.
1. Drop Off & Pick-Up Notifications
As already mentioned, Arlo Smart provides rich notifications so you will know as soon as a package is spotted and can respond immediately. Take note, however, that notifications won’t tell you if a package is picked up or dropped off. Instead, it will simply tell you that a package is seen.
2. Notification With Snapshots
Arlo Smart can also show you what it sees, thanks to the snapshot included in every notification and the ability to live stream from anywhere.
3. Two-Way Talk
Arlo cameras also support two-way talk (except for Arlo Wire-Free).
1. Not Free
Arlo Smart isn’t free. It will cost you $2.99 per month for each camera, $9.99 per month for ten cameras, or $14.99 per month for 20 cameras.
2. One-Camera Limit
Another problem is that you can’t add package detection to all of the cameras linked to your account, even if they’re all covered by your Arlo Smart subscription. Only one camera per account can use package detection.
3. Not 100% Accurate
Arlo Smart Package Detection is still in beta, and it’s not 100% accurate. The good news is even if it fails to recognize a package, it will still detect the movement or person and notify you. You can also make Arlo Smart smarter by tagging untagged packages and following Arlo’s camera placement suggestions (10 feet from the ground, 20 feet from where the package is getting dropped off).
4. Envelopes & Small Packages Are Not Detectable
The final and biggest blunder is that it only detects packages shoe box size or larger.
4. Canary Package Detection
Canary package detection is exclusive to those who are using Canary products, specifically, Canary Flex. It also requires a Canary Membership, starting at $9.99 per month.
1. Rich Notifications
Canary offers rich notifications that can tell you precisely if it sees a package move (either dropped off or picked up).
2. Two-Way Talk
1. Canary Flex Only
Canary’s package detection doesn’t work with all Canary cameras. You can only use it with Canary Flex.
2. Not Free
The usage of package detection requires a Canary Membership, which typically starts at $9.99 per month (up to 5 cameras).
3. Not 100% Accurate
4. Envelopes & Small Packages Are Not Detectable
5. Post Office/Amazon Locker
Ultimately, if you know you can’t retrieve your package immediately, using an alternative delivery option might be your best bet. Options like an Amazon Locker or your local Post Office will keep your package safe and allow you to pick it up when you’re ready. When delivering a package to your Post Office, you will need a PO Box number, but you won’t be limited by this. Instead, simply set your Post Office’s physical address as the delivery address and add your box number to the end. For example, if your post office’s address is 1234 Main Street and your box number is #123, you would use 1234 Main Street #123 as your address.
1. Out Of Sight, Out Of Danger
Because packages delivered to an Amazon Locker or your Post Office are out of sight of porch pirates, they are almost certainly safe.
2. Retrieve When Convenient
This option also takes away the need to rush home just to retrieve your package from your doorstep. You can pick them up any time that’s convenient for you.
The cons for the post office and those for Amazon are a little different.
1. Not Ideal For Large Packages (Amazon)
If your package weighs over 20 pounds and is over 19″ x 14″ x 12″ in size, it’s not eligible for Amazon Locker delivery.
2. Must Retrieve Within 3 Or 30 Days (Amazon)
Your package also can’t stay in the Amazon Locker for too long. If it’s there for more than 3 days after you’ve received the retrieval code, they will send it back. That said, this one kind of applies to the post office too. If you leave a package there for more than 30 days, they might send it back.
3. Amazon Locker Only Accepts Amazon Deliveries (Amazon)
Finally, you can only store items shipped from Amazon in the Amazon Locker.
4. Requires a Box Subscription (Post Office)
Finally, in order to ship to a box office, you will need to rent a post office box.
Featured Photo Credit: Mark Rober