Insurer offers tips to thwart porch pirates, after sharp rise in home thefts

DES MOINES — This is Cyber Monday as online holiday shopping hits a peak and Iowans are being warned to plan ahead to keep porch pirates from stealing their packages.

Iowa’s largest home insurer is reporting a 26-percent increase in residential theft claims nationwide compared to last year, and State Farm spokeswoman Michal Brower is offering tips to avoid being ripped off. If you just want to be sure you know when something is delivered, Brower says requiring a signature is a simple and effective option.  “With quite a few people either having odd working hours or even working from home,” Brower says, “that might work great to be able to sign for a package directly at your house, but you can also request that it be delivered to say your work office.”

Requiring a signature for package delivery also ensures you’ll receive the package directly and it won’t be sitting in front of your house for any length of time. As an alternative, Brower touts using a community package delivery box for another layer of safety.  “Those are locked and secure and that just gives a great option for having a secure delivery of your package,” Brower says. “How that usually works is that when your package is delivered, you receive a code so that you get notification and then you can go and safely retrieve your purchase.”

Doorbell security cameras are relatively easy to install, they’re not expensive, and can enable you to talk with someone who’s at your front door from your couch or across the country. Brower says home security systems are becoming very popular, and may even get you a discount on your insurance premiums, while thwarting those porch pirates.  “Visible security cameras, logos or markings that there is a home monitoring system in place, this all can help deter those thieves to keep them from even entering your front porch or your steps to start with,” Brower says, “and another thing, too, actually is outdoor lighting.”

If you don’t want to spring for a security system, fake cameras, complete with blinking red lights, are another available option to deter would-be thieves.