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Package Theft: What You Need to Know

Aug. 14, 2020
Package theft in the U.S. is at an all-time high, with approximately 1.7 million packages lost or stolen each day. And the negative effects aren't just limited to consumers.

Right now, package theft in the U.S. is at an all-time high. Approximately 1.7 million packages are either lost or stolen each day, according to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While this undoubtedly affects the consumer negatively, it also threatens package delivery services like the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, and the like.

Package theft can occur in any part of the distribution channel, and it includes the theft of a parcel as well as the package itself. Packages can also be stolen from the very household they are delivered to, which is called “porch piracy.” Those that wrongfully accused any of these crimes should seek advice from a qualified theft lawyer who will advise the best way to evaluate your case.

Besides our safety and privacy, this endangers big companies that do business exclusively through package deliveries, like Amazon, eBay, Aliexpress, and others. While package theft is regulated by state laws, there are certain tips and tricks you can use to try and minimize the likelihood that you’ll fall victim of this crime. In this article, we bring you the low-down on the escalating issue of package theft, the federal and state laws on the situation, and how you can protect yourself from it. Let’s get into it.

How Much Money Is Stolen Each Year?

The estimated global financial loss per year due to package theft is estimated between $20-30 Billion! Sometimes truckloads of packages are hijacked, never to be seen again, and it’s suspected there are rings of organized crime involved.

The theft happens anywhere between the person/company shipping the package, throughout the delivery process, theft from the porch, mailbox, or the door of the receiver. And it also involves the theft of pallet loads as well as smaller packages. Package Pilferage

The really cunning part of the process is something called “package pilferage,” and it happens when a part (or all) of the contents of a package is being stolen. The really persistent perpetrators will even replace the stolen contents with some objects to imitate the original weight of the package. Then just reseal it and send it in its original way. They do this to trick package tracking systems.

Porch Piracy

As mentioned, porch piracy happens when a delivered package from someone’s building or porch is stolen before that person has picked it up. The problem is that a vast majority of these cases end up unreported to the authorities because many of the major online shipping companies and retailers have a return/refund, no questions asked policy for stolen items.

While this is considered a minor crime in the U.S., in recent years, lawmakers are pushing for more severe punishments. However, there are countries in the world where packages are never delivered and left unattended on the receiver’s porch or door, and porch piracy is unknown there.

What Constitutes Package Theft Under Federal Law?

18 U.S. Code § 1708. regulates theft of mail matters and treats receipt of stolen mail the same. It applies to anyone who steals, abstracts, or takes through any means (fraud, deception, hijacking, stealing) any mail that does not belong to them during any part of the delivery chain. This naturally includes every possible place used in the delivery of a package, from post offices, mail routes, authorized depositories, bags, and electronic mail. It includes all types of property imaginable.

As mentioned, the law treats the conspirators, those who aid, and receipts the same way as to direct perpetrators of the crimes described in detail under the section. The punishment can be a fine or imprisonment (no more than five years), or both.

What Constitutes Package Theft Under State Law?

Of course, state laws differ from one state to another, but they all usually include the same broad spectrum of how they deal with package theft as a crime. As you might expect, the punishment varies between states too. For instance, the state of Texas recognizes that for some individuals, the opportunity of an unattended package at a porch is too great of a temptation to resist.

They treat it as a “crime of opportunity,” but the consequences are still severe. They include package theft into any kind of “taking a person’s property of any form without that person’s knowledge or permission,” which means it is under general theft. Under the Texas Penal Code 31.03, the severity is then determined based on the stolen property’s value.

Tips for Avoiding Package Thefts

There isn’t much we can do to prevent these crimes if they are organized on a larger and more serious scale. However, we can protect ourselves from opportunism, if we can call it that, and take some precautions. This would include:

  • Getting a P.O. Box
  • Using lockers
  • Receiving notifications for package tracking
  • Installing security cameras on your porch
  • Changing the delivery destination to your workplace
  • Requiring a signature on delivery
  • Rescheduling or putting a package on hold if you are on a vacation
  • Installing smart locks

While you may not be able to ensure the safe delivery of your packages, you can take the aforementioned steps to give it the best chance of arriving in one piece.

About the Author

Douglas Parker

Douglas Parker handles content management and communications for Manshoory Law Group, APC. He has always had a special interest in the sphere of Law and Human Rights. Dedicating a lot of his free time to understanding the small details and specifics of these fields, Douglas enjoys exploring and analyzing them in his articles. His main goal is to make this sometimes complicated information available and transparent for everyone.

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