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November 15, 2017

Some practical (and hilarious) tips from Philadelphians to prevent stolen packages

Many Philadelphians who like to shop online — as well as anyone who frequents Philly neighborhood Facebook groups or the city's reddit page — are familiar with a common problem: package theft.

And with holiday shopping season in full swing, there's an increasing chance more people are about to fall victim to stoop and porch robbers. 

You've watched the videos, whether it be on the Philadelphia Police Department's YouTube account or from residents who've upload their own security footage. In most cases, an opportunistic thief lingers around the doorstep, before snatching a package when no one is looking.

Ideally, of course, you'd prefer to not have your packages stolen in the first place, rather than hoping police or someone else will be able to identify the perpetrator based on grainy surveillance images.

So, what are the best ways prevent stolen packages in the first place? There are plenty of tips you can find across the interwebs, such as here, here, here and here

But Philadelphia is a city of outside-the-box thinking, practical problem solvers, so I posed the question to the Philadelphia Reddit page seeking users to share some of the most effective ways to stop package thieves.

Most answers were helpful, and in some cases unique tips. Others were downright silly (but funny). Here are some of the best tips from Philadelphians on preventing package thefts:


• "Have the packages delivered to your workplace." –BonsallStreetBomber

• "I bought and paid someone to install my own drop box outside my house." –tammiallday (Author's note: Examples of these can be found here and here, but a heads up: most are pretty pricy, ranging between $150-$1,000)

• "Tape up a note asking [the package carrier] for a pickup notice." –hrll2

• "Ask the corner store by your house if they can hold packages for you (probably best to get friendly and buy some cigs or lotto tickets before you ask)" –hrll2

• "Our Amazon delivery guy usually hides them behind our plants or, if they're small enough, under our door mat. Makes them slightly less obvious to opportunistic thieves. He'll also leave a "missed delivery" post-it with the location. So, I guess the tip would be to have random décor outside of your house that can be used to hide packages ¯_(ツ)_/¯" –beansjawns

• "Amazon offers Locker, where you can have a package delivered to a secure public location for pickup. For USPS, you could always rent a P.O. box, or put a vacation hold on your mail so that it stays there and you can pick it up there." –violinkeri

• "I think packages are less likely to be stolen on a porch where they can be partially obscured and farther away from the sidewalk. Also have it delivered to a place that has people entering and exiting frequently." –alblaster

• "Having experienced a package theft about a month ago, please report it to the police, and if delivered by the USPS, to the postmaster – these are still crimes, and they need to be followed up on. I know no one reads, but I've placed two signs on my front door of my shared apartment building (inside the vestibule). Outside sign alerts all delivery people to ring the doorbells for all deliveries due to recent thefts. Inside sign asks residents to always bring in any packages found in the vestibule. The fact that the vestibule door hides most packages helps, too, but packages left overnight will probably disappear. Since the signs went up, I've noticed an increase in doorbell deliveries, and housemates bringing in packages." –under_design

• "Amazon allows you to add notes for the delivery person (it's under your account -> Edit address). You can choose if you can receive packages on weekends. If you have a special request (i.e. Leave it at the rear door, with a neighbor, gate code, etc) type it in and the delivery person will see it and hopefully will follow the instructions." –VailR

• "This works if you have access to an alley. Lock the door and make the top part swing on a hinge. Mail person drops the box over the top. Takes a bit of training but pretty effective." –thatisapaddlin


• "Pop a quick H on the box, so everyone knows it's full of hornets." –captainblackout

• "s*** in an amazon box, tape it up, and leave it on your stoop until someone steals it. repeat ad infinitum so all the local bums/crooks leave your poop stoop alone. dog doo doo and roadkill could work similarly." –hrll2

• "Lol, tell UPS to drop the box off in an empty parking spot since empty spots are more frequent during the late morning, early afternoon, hours. When you get home, find the spot with your package; two birds and get stoned." –TheF**network

• "Buy lead. Put it in a smallish box. Leave it on your porch. The heavy box will hurt the perp. Take a dump in a box, leave it. Trip wires." -KFCConspiracy

Have your own tips to prevent package theft? We want to hear them. Share your suggestions in the comments section below or email PhillyVoice staff writer Daniel Craig at As we get good ones, we'll add them to this article.