As deliveries begin to roll in ahead of the holiday season, it’s prime time for porch pirates to swipe unprotected packages off of doorsteps.
“It’s a quick theft,” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Genae Cook told CBS affiliate WTTV. “[What] you’ll notice is cars going back and forth up and down the street, so it’s a good time for your neighbors to be diligent watching out for strangers in the neighborhood.”
Fortunately, the proliferation of smart home devices means you can monitor deliveries from your phone. Read on to find out what products and services will help you keep a virtual “eye” on your holiday packages, no matter where you are.
Connected buzzers work in much the same way as traditional security cameras. The hardwired Arlo Video Doorbell has high-definition resolution, a live video feed, motion alerts and more — for a super reasonable price. Subscribe to the Arlo Smart cloud service for access to advanced motion alerts that differentiate between people, animals, cars and packages. You can also look back at your video footage with Arlo Smart to help neighbors and law enforcement (if necessary) identify who snagged your holiday deliveries.
The Arlo Video Doorbell is our current top pick in the category.
Read more: See the best smart doorbells.
The Arlo Pro 4 is smart and feature-rich, with 2K video resolution, a built-in spotlight for night-time deterrence, a surprisingly loud siren and all the smarts of the company’s video doorbell. With a subscription, you can look back at recorded events, get alerts and use two-way talk to scare off would-be porch pirates.
It’s our top pick in the smart security camera category.
Integrated porch light-security cameras are an emerging smart home security category. The Ring Spotlight Cam (pictured), the Netatmo Outdoor Security Camera and the Ring Floodlight Cam all combine smart lighting with smart video monitoring. With each of these devices, you can watch a live video feed, receive motion alerts and talk to people via two-way audio intercoms. But you can also program the lights to turn on and off at set times.
The Spotlight Cam even has a 110-decibel siren, so you can scare someone away when needed.
Amazon Prime members have another option to keep an eye on their packages. Instead of monitoring traditional outdoor deliveries with outdoor cameras, the Amazon Key service allows Amazon to deliver packages inside your home. This service is available in select areas in the US. Check this list of cities to see if the Key service is available where you live. The Amazon Key In-Home Kit is required to enable the Key service. It includes one Key-enabled Amazon Cloud Cam indoor security camera and one Amazon-approved third-party smart lock. With this kit, you can receive alerts when a courier arrives and watch them deliver the package inside your home.
In addition to outdoor cameras and in-home delivery services, select companies offer smart locks and storage options for your packages. One such company is BoxLock. Its product, also called BoxLock, is a smart padlock that works with a related BoxLock app.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work: A BoxLock delivery partner uses the lock to scan the package barcode. The lock unlocks and they secure your delivery inside a storage container (sold separately) until you can get home and retrieve your package. UPS, FedEx, Amazon Prime and USPS are BoxLock partners.
Amazon also offers a Locker program in select areas. Of course, you have to travel to an Amazon Locker location, but these kiosks let you pick up Amazon packages on your own schedule with a six-digit code (rather than worrying about something sitting on your front porch).
Ring has a device specifically for tracking when people are opening your mailbox, which makes tracking deliveries a lot easier. But if you have a home security system at home, another easy way of monitoring your mailbox is using a door/window sensor — one of those magnetic gadgets that pings the system when an entryway is opened — inside the door of your box. Either way you do it, you should be able to track the delivery of small parcels — and make sure you know when someone’s opening the mailbox who shouldn’t be.
32 outdoor security cameras that take home security seriously
If none of the above tech options appeal to you, don’t fret. You can require a signature for your delivery so packages aren’t ever left outside when no one’s home. You can also have your packages shipped to your office, or somewhere else where you’re guaranteed to be during the day.
This piece was originally published in 2017 and is periodically updated with new recommendations.