There is no such thing as a harmless crime. Every crime affects someone, despite the fact that those who perpetrate crimes do not seem to care. It is especially troubling to know that some criminals have convinced themselves that what they do doesn’t create victims. Could it be that some porch pirates assume that their crimes are harmless?
It is not uncommon to root for a criminal who goes after a big corporation based on the flawed logic that the corporation can afford to be victimized. But unfortunately, such thinking leads to similarly flawed logic that says customers are not hurt by porch piracy. After all, a person whose packages have been stolen can always contact the seller and get them replaced.
If that is your mindset, think again. Porch piracy is not a harmless crime. It absolutely affects both consumers and retailers – and often to a larger degree than the criminals themselves know. As an example, consider a Las Vegas case from February, 2019.
Stolen Cancer Medication
Imagine you are the mother of a 14-year-old child who suffers from a rare form of cancer requiring medication that costs $40,000 per month. Imagine expecting the next delivery of your child’s medication only to find out that it was stolen off the front porch. Your child depends on that medication to live. And yet, some yahoo with little regard for others has taken it.
This very scenario was reported in Las Vegas in 2019. The victim of the crime was a 14-year-old boy who has been battling cancer since he was six months old. He takes medication daily. Without it, he could die.
His latest round of medication was delivered to the front door along with another package. At some point during the day, a porch pirate walked up and stole both packages. His image was caught on a video surveillance camera, and police immediately released the images in hopes of someone being able to identify the thief.
The most disturbing aspect of the video footage is the apparent disregard shown by the thief. He nonchalantly walks up to the door as though he is there to deliver flowers. Seemingly without a care in the world, he snatches the packages and walks away.
The victim’s mother reported the crime and then went on to plead that the medication be returned. Here’s the thing: the family has to pay for the medication out-of-pocket because it is not approved for minors. This family did not lose a $20 co-pay; they lost $40,000 in life-saving medicine.
The Video Surveillance Solution
It is not clear if the suspect, in this case, was ever apprehended. The one thing we do know is that video surveillance cameras provided an excellent image of the man’s face and clothing. Seeing the video clearly demonstrates why local law enforcement agencies encourage people to install video cameras and smart doorbells.
Video surveillance alone may not be enough to catch every porch pirate. In fact, some porch pirates have now gotten used to the idea of being surveilled. Thus, they take precautions to make it harder to identify them. Nonetheless, even limited video footage is better than no video footage at all.
It goes without saying that the typical American home should be outfitted with at least one video camera pointed at the front door. And if not a standalone camera, at least a video doorbell with a wide field of vision. Additional cameras should be installed as necessary to keep an eye on other vulnerable entry points.
When installed, a video doorbell offers an advantage you do not get from standalone cameras: a two-way audio system. On-board audio lets homeowners actually talk to people approaching the front door in real-time. Audio gives homeowners the upper hand because being able to speak to porch pirates puts that little bit of doubt in their minds.
Other Steps Homeowners Can Take
It is clear that porch pirates have little regard for their victims. It is also clear that law enforcement can do very little to prevent porch piracy from occurring. So it’s up to homeowners to do what they can to protect themselves. Whether one lives in Las Vegas or elsewhere, prevention options are pretty uniform.
The best possible way to prevent porch piracy is to ensure that packages are never left on the front porch. One way to do that is to have packages delivered to another address. For example, maybe a family member on the other side of town works a different shift. She is home while you are working. With her cooperation, you can have your packages delivered to her house.
Vivint Smart Home says another option is to install smart door locks, then give delivery companies a temporary access code so they can open the front door and leave packages inside. Installing video cameras inside the front door allow you to keep an eye on delivery persons so that they go no further.
A purpose-built package safe is yet another option. Package safes are secured to the floor or wall and accessed via electronic locks. Again, you give delivery companies a temporary access code that enables them to leave packages inside.
Shame on You Porch Pirates
On the outside chance that you actually make a living as a porch pirate, the rest of America has something to say to you: shame on you. What you may think is a harmless crime can be a matter of life or death to your victims. Does it bother you that stealing cancer medication could result in the death of an innocent child?
Every crime has its victims. You never see the faces of your victims, so they probably matter very little to you. But before you go steal more packages off local porches, consider how you would feel if your child’s life were put in jeopardy by some knucklehead who stole a package from you. The rest of us are willing to bet you wouldn’t take too kindly to it.