3 Ways to Stop “Porch Pirates” in Their Tracks

Porch Pirates

There are a few things you can do to deter “porch pirates” who may be tempted to lift your courier-delivered goodies from your front door when you’re not there.Photo: TriggerPhoto/Getty Images

It’s clear Canadians love online shopping, with many discovering all the benefits of it for the first time during the pandemic.

Not only are more of us logging on than ever before  44 per cent of Canadian households are shopping online as of April 2021 but we’re also spending more, too, with an average checkout up 14 per cent in 2021 compared to 2019, says Canada Post.

Thanks to the majority of the adult population being vaccinated, we’re also spending more time away from home, even as the popularity of online shopping doesn’t appear to be waning. The issue, though, then becomes not being at home to receive the packages. Now that the lockdowns and shutdowns are behind us, how can we protect those packages from thieves if we’re not there?

While it may not be an issue for those in a condo with a concierge or security personnel to accept parcels, many homeowners worry about leaving items on the doorstep for a few minutes or hours. In fact, according to one survey, nearly one in four adult Canadians say they have been a victim of package theft.

The good news is there are a few things you can do to deter “porch pirates” who may be tempted to lift your courier-delivered goodies from your front door when you’re not there.

Here are three such solutions. 


Personal Mailboxes

Porch Pirates
Danby Parcel Guard. Photo: Courtesy Danby Products Limited.


In the era of online deliveries, perhaps your own lockable parcel box is what you need, such as the Parcel Guard family of porch products from Guelph, Ont.’s Danby. 

Some don’t have smart technology, like the Danby Parcel Guard Basic Mailbox ($349), a simple lockbox that can fit parcels up to 15 x 10 x 8 inches, and features an anti-theft drop slot and key lock for you to open when you get home.

If desired, the mailbox could be bolted to the ground (fixings included), or weight can be added to the base of the unit (using sand or gravel).

If you want a high-tech mailbox, there’s also the Danby Parcel Guard Smart Mailbox (usually $549), but currently on sale for $399), a Wi-Fi-connected unit with motion sensor, camera, two-way voice communication, smart home device integration (Google and Alexa), and alarm. Receive real-time notifications on your smartphone app when a courier is there.

To open the electronic lock to access parcels inside, use the keypad or the app. (Note: the Smart Mailbox requires a 120-volt power supply.)

Of course, these are ideal for regular mail, too, should you get letters delivered right to your home.


Video Doorbells

Porch Pirates
Lorex Video Doorbell. Photo: Courtesy Lorex Technology Inc.


While it can’t stop a thief from taking your stuff, video doorbells and other outdoor cameras could act as a deterrent, plus you’ll have clear evidence of any incident.

As you likely know, these solutions let you see who’s at your front door whether you’re at home or not and talk with visitors via the integrated microphone and speaker. You’re immediately notified on your smartphone when it detects motion.

There are several video doorbells and outdoor cameras available on the market, but many require a monthly cloud subscription to look back at video from a previous hour, day or week. (Live chats with guests are free.)

Instead, Markham, Ont.’s Lorex has a 2K Wi-Fi Video Doorbell ($190) that does not require ongoing costs because recordings are stored on the included 32GB MicroSD card, and the Lorex Home smartphone app (available for iOS and Android devices) lets you chat in real time with visitors and review previously recorded videos. The wired doorbell offers colour night vision, a built-in nightlight and the option to play prerecorded audio messages when someone rings the bell.

Lorex also offers the weatherproof Lorex 1080p Wi-Fi Floodlight Camera ($197), which houses two ultra bright LED lights (to produce a total of 4,000 lumens), full HD recording, a remotely triggered siren and two-way audio and infrared night vision.


Deliver to Another Location

Porch Pirates
Photo: Courtesy Canada Post Corporation


Another idea is to have packages delivered to a nearby post office. Canada Post offers a range of post office (P.O.) box sizes to hold your mail and packages safely at a nearby facility. As outlined at the Canada Post site for renting a box, the first step is to visit your nearest post office to rent a box. Search for your closest one based on your postal code. Once at a location, choose the size you want (usually five options) and your desired rental period.

Finally, one other option is to direct online deliveries to your place of business if it’s during working hours.