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Porch pirate cases expected to surge over holidays

Experts warn not to have packages delivered unless someone is available to claim them at your front door right away.

TAMPA, Fla — With Black Friday and Cyber Monday less than two weeks away, local law enforcement agencies are warning of an expected spike in the number of package thefts taken from front doorsteps.

Packages can often vanish in seconds as professional thieves or just neighborhood kids grab what’s not theirs from your front door.

They’re commonly known as Porch Pirates and these holiday hunters are coming out in full force across the Bay area.

Local police warn some will even follow along the route waiting for the delivery driver to drop off and leave the area. Talk about following a trend!

In Pasco County, the sheriff's office reports over 700 reported property thefts over the past three years. That’s nearly one a day. Sheriff Investigators tell us, get ready. Those numbers tend to go up in November and December because of holiday shopping when many are buying online much more often. 

"I do feel like it’s a growing problem for sure," Cpl. Ron Buzzetto, a crime prevention expert with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, said.

He says it's important to realize that one reported crime doesn’t equal just one stolen item.

“They’re just gonna collect and pick up as much as they can possibly get,” Buzzetto said.

In Hillsborough County, the Sheriff’s office reported they had 274 porch pirate cases in 2019. 

While they say that number dipped during the pandemic of 2020 when most folks were home, numbers across the Bay area are already trending up this year.

Hillsborough County reports last year’s losses at $130,000 in stolen deliveries.

“It’s the opportunity,” Buzzetto said. “That’s all it’s about. I think it happens more often. More than it’s reported.”

Out of 2000 consumers who’d used delivery over the past year, 43 percent report having a package stolen – yet never reported it! That’s according to a study we found from C & R Research. 64 percent of those robbed say it’s happened more than once.            

“Is this not a great opportunity to make money?” Buzzetto begged the question. “I could sell it on marketplace, I can sell it on eBay, I can sell it on craigslist. This is where you’re going to find that stuff.”

Buzzetto says it’s up to good citizens to make sure deliveries aren’t just left sitting out to be stolen.

“The best thing for somebody to do is to have it delivered to an alternate address or where someone’s going to be there to receive it,” Buzzetto said. “That pretty much ensures that you’re going to get it.”

And sure, a video doorbell might help see the crime – the goal though – is to prevent it. 

He says it’s time to place a lockbox near your front door or utilize delivery lockers like the ones now available through many companies like Amazon.

“Having all of your packages delivered there that way you can go and pick them up at your convenience at your leisure and you know they’re going to be there when you arrive,” Buzzetto said.

10 Tampa Bay will be monitoring reported porch pirate package thefts over the coming two months and will let you know what statistics we receive from our local law enforcement agencies.

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