A few years ago, thieves stole some of our Christmas decorations from our front yard. After carefully laying out our decorations, ensuring that all the lights worked and checking everything twice, we had a yard that (although a little more tasteful) was at least a little competitive with our local Clark W. Griswold (who lived just down the street).
One evening, we arrived home to find that someone had stolen a religious-themed sign that was the centerpiece of our decorations. Later, we found that police had busted some neighborhood kids who had stolen items from several yards, with no obvious motive other than meanness.
Apparently, we have a lot of company; an insurancequotes.com study found that nearly 23 million U.S. homes have reported stolen yard decorations in the past year.
The study highlights a disturbing fact: Grinches are among us and are increasingly targeting homeowners. And it doesn’t stop at stealing signs and lighted deer, either; thieves are also on the prowl for packages delivered and left on front porches. “Porch piracy” is increasing rapidly, with about 26 million police reports filed in the past year.
Insurancequotes.com put together its report, called Holiday Hazards by the Numbers, to reinforce the idea that we need to be more aware of the dangers that can come with the holidays and protect ourselves accordingly.
“During the holidays, certain crimes and home hazards increase. Homeowners need to take precautions and make sure they have the right insurance to protect their finances,” said Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at insuranceQuotes.
Another holiday danger mentioned in the report is the increased danger of house fires, which may be caused by faulty wiring in Christmas tree lights, overloading of circuits, cooking, improper use of space heaters and other reasons. According to the study, 9 million Americans have had a house fire caused by a fryer or cooking accident; 7 million have had a house fire caused by lit candles and 5 million have experienced a house fire caused by a Christmas tree.
Porch piracy has reached epidemic levels in some areas and has increased as more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online. The recent “Cyber Monday” set a record as online shoppers spent $6.59 billion online (according to CNBC, it was the largest online shopping day in history).
All those packages being delivered to all those homes create a promised land for thieves, who have been known to follow delivery trucks around. Often, though, porch piracy is just a crime of opportunity as crooks see it as a way to jump out, grab a package and make a quick getaway.
Despite all these risks, though, there are some things you can do. To thwart porch piracy, many homeowners have installed security cameras linked to motion detectors and security systems. Others have found success by having their packages delivered to trusted neighbors who are at home.
Some are using hi-tech solutions such as Landport (a heavy metal box which is bolted down on your front porch, locked with a keypad). Landport costs between $500 and $800. Amazon Key (starting at $250, plus monthly subscription fees of $7 to $20 a month) uses a special lock that the homeowner installs on his door, and the homeowner supplies an entry code to the delivery driver. A security camera captures the whole delivery, then Amazon Key then relocks the door afterwards.
Although Amazon Keys are flying off the shelves, some security experts caution that the new technology could come with its own drawbacks (not the least of which is granting a complete stranger access to your home while you’re away.)
Stopping yard-decoration thieves is a little more difficult, the study warns, but motion detectors, more lighting and security systems can help reduce the risk. Some statistics I’ve found indicate homes without a security system are significantly more likely to be victimized than ones without one.
To read the study in its entirety, complete with tips, visit https://www.insurancequotes.com/home/porch-pirates-package-thieves-house-fires-holiday-120117.