TodayApril 15, 2022

Porch pirates, Christmas tree fires, Holiday hazards on the rise

All I want for Christmas

There’s a new study that shows that 26 MILLION AMERICANS Have Had Holiday Packages Stolen by PORCH PIRATES (And Just as Many Have Had HOLIDAY HOUSE FIRES). The data released on gift theft, Christmas tree fires, tree fires, home vandalism, car accidents, decorating injuries and other holiday hazards is staggering.

AUSTIN, TEXAS (December 5, 2018)—There’s no place like home during the holidays. And, for porch pirates, there’s no place like your front door! According to new data from—which assessed a variety of seasonal risks in its 2018 ‘Holiday Hazards’ study—26.1 million Americans (8%) have had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep, up from 23.5 million porch thefts reported in 2015.

“The holiday season is a time of year filled with joy as we gather with loved ones—but unfortunately, it’s also a time filled with risk. From car accidents to decorating injuries and home fires, there are many dangers to be aware of in the midst of holiday celebrations—including porch pirates vying for a chance to swipe unattended deliveries,” said Jason Hargraves, insurance quotes analyst. “Taking preventative steps in advance, like using the Amazon Key, is a simple way to keep burglars at bay while avoiding the headache of losing holiday gifts.”

Among the study’s additional findings:

· Fires: 26.1 million Americans have experienced a holiday-related house fire, with causes ranging from cooking (9.8 million) to candles (6.5 million) to Christmas trees (3.3 million).

· Vandals: 19.6 million have had their holiday decorations stolen or vandalized.

· Injuries: 9.8 million have experienced a holiday decorating-related injury.

· Weather: 107.8 million have slipped on ice, while 45.7 million Americans have experienced a weather-related auto accident during the holidays.

· Protection: 57% of those victimized by thieves and vandals (26 million Americans) responded with security measures, including motion detectors on lights (15.1 million), security systems (11 million), automatic timers on lights (10.5 million), video doorbells (7.8 million) and package lockboxes (4.6 million).

Porch pirate prevention

It used to be, not too long ago, that shopping for holiday gifts online was a fringe retail option reserved for only the most technologically advanced consumers. This is decidedly no longer the case.

According to the retail marketing research firm Shopify, U.S. consumers are expected to spend $123.4 billion in online purchases during the 2018 holiday season — which is a striking jump from $91.2 billion spent just two years prior.

But the added convenience and ubiquity of online shopping has given birth to an entirely new criminal enterprise known as porch piracy.

High-tech solutions to package theft

In an effort to address this growing problem, security firms, delivery services, and online retailers have tried to f0ind both low- and high-tech solutions to porch piracy over the past several years.

For instance, a service known as BoxLock provides homeowners with a smart padlock designed to protect deliveries by scanning packages so that delivery drivers can unlock a storage box on the customer’s porch. Only packages addressed to the customer — and that are actually out for delivery that day — will unlock the BoxLock.

There’s also a service called Landport, which is a secured delivery drop box homeowners can install on their porch or stoop. The box is bolted to its location and features an electronic keypad on which a delivery driver enters a unique access code to open the lid.

“Unfortunately, porch theft is a difficult problem to address,” says Monica Eaton-Cardone, co-founder and COO of the risk-mitigation firm Chargebacks911. “While there are organized groups who engage in this practice, it is most often a crime of convenience; the thief sees a package sitting unattended, and simply grabs it. Delivery confirmation can help by serving as evidence for a transaction dispute, but it doesn’t prevent the root of the issue: the theft.”

Amazon — the country’s largest online retailer — has also tried coming up with some high-tech security solutions of its own. For instance, last year the e-retail giant unveiled the Amazon Key, which has a fairly simple premise: When a delivery arrives at your house and you’re not home, the courier scans a barcode that sends a request to Amazon’s cloud. If it’s approved Amazon remotely unlocks your door and starts recording video through the online retailer’s Cloud Cam. The delivery is left inside the house, the courier relocks the door, and the customer gets an instant notification that the delivery was just made (accompanied by a short video showing the successful drop off).

The service costs $249.99 and includes the smart lock, camera, and installation.

“From inspecting holiday lights and using battery-operated candles, to accelerating slowly and avoiding cruise control during inclement weather, there are a number of actions to take to avoid costly accidents,” Hargraves said. “And whether we’re talking about injuries, fires, or vehicle damage, the winter months are a critical time for Americans to review their auto, home and health care policies. Implementing safety measures and ensuring adequate insurance coverage affords you and your family the most priceless gift of all: peace of mind.”

* Inspect Your Vehicle: According to Nicole Firebaugh, manager at the Illinois-based Preventative Maintenance Repair shop, the holidays are a great time to take stock of your vehicle’s performance and make important repairs before hitting the road. “One major step to avoid hazards is to have your car checked by your mechanic ahead of time if you plan to travel,” Firebaugh says. “Take your car to a mechanic a week beforehand, have them find an issue, and repair it before you leave. That’s a lot better than discovering a major problem while you’re on the road.”

* Be Alert for Other Drivers: According to Dave Delaney, chief marketing officer for Owner Operator Direct, a trucking insurance company, holiday drivers should pay particular attention to the risks posed by other drivers. In addition to the increased prevalence of drunk driving during the holidays, Delaney says it’s also important for drivers to recognize that there are high numbers of out-of-town visitors on the road in any given location during the holidays, and these visitors are “way more likely” to be distracted drivers.

“They are unfamiliar with where they are, and they might be more concerned with finding a street or an exit than they are with safe driving,” Delaney says. “We encourage our policyholders to keep a safe following distance from drivers who don’t seem to know where they are going, especially if the vehicle makes sudden moves and stops or if the driver is on a cell phone or attempting to read a map or directions.”

Drive safely, have a good holiday.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.