'Porch Pirates' Don't Always Leave With Holiday Gifts

It's a big problem, but some homeowners are fighting back
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2017 1:02 PM CST
'Porch Pirates' Swipe Preschooler's $5K Kidney Meds
Keep tabs on the packages you're having delivered to your home.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, the UPS and Amazon trucks are out in full force—and so are "porch pirates" who steal deliveries from people's mailboxes and porches. But in Utah, one thief went too far and swiped something critical: a three-month supply of a preschooler's kidney medication, worth $5,000, per KSTU. When Cody Taylor, single dad to 4-year-old Austin, realized the meds—necessary to keep Austin's body from rejecting a kidney transplant—had been stolen, he started scrambling to figure out how to pay for a replacement set. Luckily, the insurance company said it would pay for new meds, but Taylor still has a message to porch thieves: Their actions "could range from ruining someone's Christmas to threatening someone's life." More on the problem:

  • NPR documents how widespread this particular pilfering problem is, citing one survey that says almost one-fifth of homeowners have had a package stolen over the past year. "It is a big problem, particularly around the holidays," a financial journalist for Consumer Reports notes.

  • The Washington Post details the story of a disgruntled Tacoma, Wash., resident who decided he'd had enough stolen off his porch. His solution: TheBlankBox, which fires a 12-gauge shotgun blank when a box is lifted from its rightful spot. The inventor says it's "technically harmless"; a police rep says it still sounds illegal.
  • Meanwhile, a man in Minneapolis brought it back to basics in his revenge-seeking realm: He started boxing up his dog's poop and leaving it out for the porch plunderers. Per the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the unnamed vigilante has the full support of his neighbors, who've also had packages stolen—to the point they're offering to donate poop (hopefully their pets') toward his efforts.
  • The Orlando Sentinel mentions other ideas companies are tapping into to keep thieves at bay. These include sending text alerts to customers when their packages are delivered and encouraging consumers to use tethered "porch pirate bags" that lock after the delivery person has dropped off a package. There's also Amazon Key.
  • One porch pirate story with a somewhat uplifting ending, via KSDK: A Missouri man set up surveillance cameras and played the tape on social media after packages were stolen from in front of his home. Someone recognized the two teens who'd ripped him off, and they were arrested—but not before one showed up on his doorstep with a message of repentance.
(More theft stories.)

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