The Grinches who steal Christmas

Austin makes the naughty list as one of the worst U.S. metros for porch pirates

Austin makes naughty list as one of worst metros for porch pirates

holiday gift package
Consider decking your halls and porch with some security measures to ward off package pirates this year. Courtesy photo

Guard your porches this holiday season, Austin. The Capital City ranks as the sixth worst U.S. metro area for package theft.

SafeWise, an online platform that promotes home safety and security, combed through FBI theft data as well as Google Trends data for searches like “missing package” and “stolen package” to come up with its ranking.

While sixth place isn’t anything to celebrate, it’s worth noting that Austin ranked third on SafeWise’s 2020 list. And folks here have it better than those in Denver, which holds the top spot among the worst metro areas for package theft.

Plus, Austin has some good company on the SafeWise list. The San Antonio metro area ranks fifth, maintaining its same place on last year’s list.

In a SafeWise survey of 1,000 American adults, 64 percent reported being victims of package theft during the previous 12-month period. And 72 percent of those surveyed say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more concerned about porch piracy, up nine points from last year’s survey.

More than half of all stolen packages were valued at $50 to $200, the survey shows. Amazon deliveries represented 54 percent of the stolen packages, followed by FedEx (16 percent), the U.S. Postal Service (11 percent), and UPS (9 percent).

Fifty-eight percent of recent victims of package theft reported using a security camera or video doorbell camera. And that appears to have paid off for some of them, as 34 percent caught the porch pirate on camera.

“Package theft is a crime of opportunity. The more packages left for longer periods of time on a porch, the more likely they are to be stolen. As the Christmas gift season gets into full swing, there will be a significant increase in packages on a porch,” says SafeWise adviser Ben Stickle, an expert on criminal justice and package theft.

Based on results of the SafeWise survey, it’s estimated that 210 million packages disappeared from porches across the country in the previous 12 months.

“Porch piracy is a low-entry crime. There are no special skills needed to walk up a driveway and steal a package,” says Stickle, an associate professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.