Public Safety

Prevent the Porch Poachers

This is a photo of an actual package theft that occurred in San Marcos in 2016. At the time, the San Diego Sheriff's Department published the photo to try to identify the woman.

Don’t let a Grinch steal all the presents before they even get under the tree. Thieves or “porch poachers” or “porch pirates” are making their rounds in neighborhoods hoping to find some amazing packages that have been delivered and left on the porch.

If you’ve price-shopped and product-compared and found the perfect gift online, you want to protect it by scheduling package deliveries when you are going to be home, if possible.

If it is not possible, consider the following suggestions:

  • Leave special instructions for the delivery person to put the package in a backyard, or somewhere where it’s not visible from the street. (However, if someone is following a delivery driver, they will be watching and it may not matter.)
  • Require that the delivery driver get a signature for the package (from a trusted neighbor).
  • Track the package.
  • Sign up for email or text message alerts with estimated delivery times.
  • Have USPS, Amazon, FedEx or UPS hold your package at their pick-up facility so you can pick it up in person at your convenience.
  • If purchasing from a large retailer, request that your package be delivered to a local branch or store so you can pick it up in person.
  • Get to know your carriers.  If there’s been a problem of thefts in the past, tell them about it.
  • Insure your packages.
  • Ask a neighbor or retired relative (who is home) if they will accept your package for you at their residence.
  • Have the package delivered to your workplace if it is permitted.
  • Buy a locking mailbox big enough for packages.
  • Consider installing a camera security system that photographs people who come to your door and allows you to communicate with them without opening the door or being home.
Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact