Porch pirates who steal Amazon packages at Christmas are in overdrive

Porch pirates who steal Amazon packages at Christmas are in overdrive


The Porch Pirates are in overdrive. Their crimes are unfolding on doorsteps across the nation as Christmas presents, ordered from online retailers, arriving by the hundred or millions. And plenty of these packages disappear. The thieves are totally legit villains now because they have an official villain name. Search Porch Pirates on Twitter or other social media, and you will see what I mean. But some of the 26 million victims who say they've swiped their boxes are heroically fighting, determined to protect their precious packages. They're using booby traps, secret cameras, geo-trackers and bait boxes. The scenes of Good vs. Evil being posted online, for complete comic-book reading, complete with shaming doorbell video clips or sneaky pirates, clumsy pirates, grandma pirates in flowery tunics, at least one pirate in a bra, regretful pirates who have returned to the scene of the crime to leave an apology note. And paid crimefighters are now on the move, with police chiefs as well as scouting for the Fort Worth Police Department's "Operation Grinch Pinch" or the police in Wheeling, W.Va., leaving snarky notes wishing the duped bad guys "Merry Christmas. But the doorstep vigilantes are the most entertaining. There's a guy in Tacoma, Wash., Who is marketing a device that sets off a 12-gauge blank the moment a pirate lifts the bait package. One D.C. woman fed up with nearly $ 1,000 worth of packages stolen from her Capitol Hill porch left a pretty awesome present for her pirates – a box heavy with her two dogs' poop. "It did not stop them, though," Andrea Hutzler reports. What did stop them was a Nancy Drew combination of driving and teamwork after a camera spotted a driving white truck driving away. Police used the license to the driver, who ultimately turned on the partner, Hutzler said. That did not stop other Porch Pirates from swooping in. How'd she finally stop the thefts? "We moved. We're in Northern Virginia now, "she said. "I've lived in Illinois, Houston, New Orleans, overseas. It never happened anywhere but D.C. " [Two teens arrested for more than 30 package thefts] My husband and I have been fighting this for years. The first time it happened with an Internet router we ordered online. It was snowing, and the thief left footprints. We followed them, only to find the bubble wrap, the receipt, the empty box, then the road, where the prints ended. The second time we had a package stolen – thinking we would like this by signing a signature – the person who intercepted the package signed for it. The signature read "Cathy Lanier," who was then Washington's police chief. So we stopped having anything valuable sent to the house. Then, the thefts became annoying. When a five-pound tub or purple fondant I ordered a princess cake for a daughter's friend, I snooped around the neighborhood, found the box, found the tub or purple fondant in the bushes. I learned how to make my own fondant that year. Porch Pirating is not easy to track because not everyone reports it. If you just look at the Google search for "Amazon package stolen," as the folks at Schorr packaging did, you'll see San Francisco at the top of the list, with Seattle, Minneapolis, Boston, Portland and Washington close behind. But another survey suggested that big cities are not the only place where the thieves operate. A survey done last year by video security company Blink found that rural residents in North Dakota, Vermont, Maine, New Mexico, Mississippi and Arkansas reportedly swiped the highest numbers of folks who had had packages. That map also looks like the opioid crisis map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Packages in less-populated, rural neighborhoods are targets for addicts-turned-thieves. Or course, not all the packages are swiped from Amazon. (Amazon was founded by Jeffrey P. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post.) But as consumer habits shift toward e-commerce and Amazon packages are plastered with Amazon logos, Porch Pirates would probably opt for the Amazon package over the one with Santa stickers , a return address starting with "Grandma" and "Fragile! Cookies inside! "Written all over it. [We’re shopping online as often as we take out the trash] And Amazon is anything but transparent about how many packages are stolen. I have a lot of PR guys, who said everything is "on background, no direct quotes" and do not provide me with a number of packages reported stolen, the monetary damage the thefts do to Amazon or what, exactly Amazon's policy is stolen on replacing anything. It's a case-by-case basis, he said, which was my own personal experience. Sometimes they sent me another thing, no problem. Other times I got stiffed. The Amazon guy is pointed to Amazon lockers as a theft-prevention option. (Sure, but they are not always as convenient as they sound.) And he explained the package tracking that Amazon does. They also have new features where you actually have the driver in your home or car to leave the package there. Gee, thanks. Porch Pirates are basically shoplifters. When shoplifters go to bricks-and-mortar shops, they cost retailers about $ 42 billion annually. Stores have security guards and cameras, and they take the hit when something is stolen. In the e-commerce version of shoplifting, theft prevention is now on us, David, while Goliath just shrugs. And it's not going to be out there, it's cash-strapped police departments setting up sting operations and following leads from home camera clips doing the legwork that big box stores used to be responsible for. Pretty slick, eh? Happy Shopping. Do not forget the booby stairs. Twitter: @petulad