Even as online package delivery services surpassed brick-and-mortar stores for many Americans years ago, the question persists: If I order something off of the internet, what’s the chance it will be stolen right off my front porch?
It’s an issue that has become especially prevalent in California, and it’s apparently a pretty big worry for Sacramentans. Among major U.S. cities, Sacramento ranks No. 10 in concern expressed over Amazon porch pirates, according to a recent analysis.
The study, by packaging company Shorr, used straightforward methodology: It analyzed Google search trends for the term “Amazon package stolen,” in the 50 most populous U.S. cities, and determined the rate relative to the population of each city using census data.
Shorr found that there’s one search about Amazon porch theft for every 10,038 Sacramento residents, a higher-than-average rate.
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The city was one of three California cities in the top 10, including No. 1 San Francisco, where there are 4,211 people per search of the same phrase. In Oakland, there’s a search for every 8,504 people.
On the other end, package theft seems to be less of a concern to people in parts of the Midwest and Texas. El Paso ranked No. 50, with 68,358 people per search, and San Antonio, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Omaha all rank in the bottom 10.
This study essentially measures the rate of concern for internet shoppers. But in terms of actual crime rates, some of those populations’ Google-tracked worries may correlate better than others.
While California’s capital city is No. 10 in search interest for “Amazon package theft,” FBI crime statistics show that we rank No. 60 among major cities (population 200,000 or more) for larceny-theft rates. San Francisco, though, ranks No. 2 on the FBI list, more in keeping with the Shorr study results. The most recent FBI data is from 2010.
The FBI defines larceny-theft as “the stealing of any property or article that is not taken by force and violence or by fraud,” including things like shoplifting, pickpocketing and bicycle theft. Porch piracy is a relatively new phenomenon, with fewer statistics about that specific crime available.
However, a 2017 survey by Shorr asked 1,000 Americans dozens of questions about package theft – and 31 percent said they had experienced it firsthand. About 43 percent spend more than $100 on online packages each month, according to the survey’s results. And 41 percent said they’ve avoided buying certain items online because they worried the package would be stolen.
Some effective measures to deter porch theft include adding home security systems, giving specific instructions for shippers and trying to have a human present at the time of delivery.
Amazon has also attempted to address theft issues. Controversial innovations introduced earlier this year gave customers the option to have packages delivered directly to the trunks of their cars — or even inside their homes.
Any victim of porch piracy should notify local law enforcement.