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Package pirates stole your Christmas? Here’s what you can do.

In most cases, you can get a replacement or a refund.
Credit: AP

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — ‘Tis the season of giving – but the holiday spirit of generosity does not extend to the Grinch. He’s the guy who’s all too happy to steal packages right off your front porch.

Sure, there are steps you can take to protect your stuff.

Schedule your deliveries for a time when you’ll be home, ask a neighbor to hold on to them, etc. But when you’re dealing with people determined to grab a five-finger discount at your expense, no system is foolproof.

So, the package you were expecting isn’t where it's supposed to be. Here’s what you should do.

Make sure it was stolen

Track it. The holiday season is often plagued by delivery delays, and it’s common for 2-day shipping to turn into a week-long wait. If the package was delivered, check with that nice neighbor of yours. She may have been looking out for you – and the package could be sitting on her kitchen table. Of course, that’s the best-case scenario.

Call the police

No, don’t dial 911. While your stolen package may be a family emergency, it’s not a life or death situation. You can find your police department’s non-emergency number online, and an officer will respond to write up a report. Unfortunately, there’s probably not much the cops can do – unless you caught the package pirate on camera – but the police may very well increase patrols in your neighborhood. Also, the report will come in handy if you need to file an insurance claim. (That’s far from ideal, but we’ll have more on that later)

Contact the seller

Company policies vary, but a simple phone call is sometimes all it takes to get a replacement shipped ASAP. Remember to keep your cool despite your understandable frustration. Customer service representatives are incredibly busy over the holiday season, and a little kindness can go a long way. Big picture – replacing your stolen package probably costs less than the long-term effects of a negative review. 

It’s also important to note – if you ordered something on Amazon, you may have purchased from a third-party vendor. That’s the company you’ll have to contact, so double check your order before wasting time on hold.

Report it to the shipping company

This can get a bit tricky, but we’ve got you covered. 

FedEx makes it fairly easy. The claims process is all online, and the website walks you through the process, step by step. 

UPS requires customers to have the seller file a claim. The company’s website says “UPS will work with the consumer to collect all the details and help with the filing.”

Then – there’s the government. The United States Postal Service is not the best when it comes to dealing with stolen packages. You’ll need to sign in or create an account and upload receipts to prove the value of the stolen items. If your package was not insured, you may only be able to get refunded for the cost of shipping.

File an insurance claim

Whether you own or rent a home, you probably have an insurance policy – and it likely covers a lot more than fires and break-ins. You’ll need that police report when you file a claim, but make sure you do the math first. The cost of your stolen package has to be higher than your deductible to make it worth your while – and keep in mind that a claim may increase your monthly premium.

Check your credit card

Many companies have customer protections in place for just this kind of problem. They want to keep you happy, so you’ll use their card for your next purchase. That could mean giving you a credit on your next statement – and that's almost as good as an immediate refund.

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