Porch pirates: What you need to know this holiday season

The holiday season is nearing and so is the threat of many packages getting stolen. 

According to Safewise, a security review company, three out of four Americans had a package swiped in the past 12 months, equating to over 119 million stolen packages. That's more than 5% compared to last year. 

Of those, 71% of all packages stolen were valued at $100 or less. 

Among the top metropolitan areas for package thefts are Seattle, Memphis, and San Diego. 

"Package theft is a crime of opportunity," Dr. Ben Stickle, a criminal professor, told the outlet. "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."

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According to FOX Business, some 32% of consumers will use package tracking technology to trace their package location from order to delivery; 21% will be relying on home security cameras; and 19% will be asking a neighbor or friend to watch the house and/or collect packages.  

One in five of Americans have already purchased home security cameras and 10% of Americans opt to spend even more money on top of what they’ve already spent to prevent package theft, CNET also reported. 

Smart tips for reducing porch piracy risks

Track your package diligently. Many consumers leave packages unattended for several hours at a time, which increases the chances of theft, Nick Wolny, a Los Angeles-based spokesperson with CNET, told FOX Business. 

"Know what day and approximate time your packages will arrive so you can shorten this window as much as possible," he said.

Familiarize yourself with alternative delivery options. "Delivering your package to an Amazon Locker or UPS Store ensures that someone signed for your package and is holding it for you," Wolny told FOX Business.

This way, there’s no "limbo" stage in which no one is responsible for your package — a time when porch thieves usually strike, he said.

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If you have a garage, consider in-garage delivery. The Amazon Key service integrates with your smart garage door opener, letting delivery drivers open and close your garage to drop packages off securely, said Wolny. 

This service costs $1.99 if you want delivery on a certain day, which is a recent change, he added.

More ways to reduce the chances of porch theft

The best way to keep your packages out of the hands of package thieves is to not give them the opportunity to snatch them, said Rebecca Edwards, a spokesperson with Safewise in Spokane, Washington.

"That means not leaving them out unattended on your porch," she said.

Some ways to keep your packages out of sight include the following ideas.

Use a package locker or bag. This way delivery people can leave the package in that more secure place — and thieves won't be able to see it. 

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"An added bonus is that they'll be locked away and difficult to steal," Edwards said.

Shift your delivery practices. If your home is within 25 feet of the street, you're more likely to be targeted, as "that's the sweet spot for package thieves," said Edwards.

So, to reduce the chances of theft, "it can be as simple as letting delivery drivers know where to put a package, whether it's behind a plant or other decor, or on the side of the house instead of the porch," said Edwards.

"If reasonable, most delivery drivers are willing to comply with requests."

If you're shopping with Amazon, pick an "Amazon Day" for one day a week. "That makes it much easier to plan and make arrangements so that you or someone else can be home to receive the packages," she said.

And, on top of the usual preventive measures such as requiring a signature and signing up for delivery updates, here are some other effective things to do.

Work together with your neighbors. Edwards suggests finding out if there’s someone in your neighborhood or building that is home during the day and willing to be a "delivery captain." 

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Use an app like Via Delivery that lets you choose from over 36,000 pickup locations across the country. This means you don’t have to worry about your package being left unattended, making it vulnerable to porch pirates.

Track all of your orders through an app like Shop that lets you get delivery info in one place.

"I've been able to delay or cancel a delivery and have the package held for pickup when I got a notice that my package was on the way to my home when I wasn't able to be there — especially if it's a valuable item," Edwards said. 

FOX Business contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.