Safety and security: things you can do to thwart porch pirates


This is the first of a series of articles on Safety and Security in Bolton Hill by Jim Prost, chairperson of the BHCA Safety and Security Committee. If you have  questions, or would like to participate on the BHCA Safety and Security Committee, please contact him at 

With the pandemic, online shopping has increased significantly. This growth in package deliveries has in turn resulted in increases in package thefts or so-called ”porch pirating” (or in some Bolton Hill locations, “vestibule/stoop visiting”). 

In 2020, 43 percent of those receiving packages reported having a package stolen, up from 36% in the previous year. In Bolton Hill, larceny, which includes porch piracy as well as theft from automobiles, is by far the largest reported crime category. It accounts for approximately three-fifths of all  crimes reported to the Baltimore Police this year to date. The number of larcenies so far this year is up 58 percent from 2020. How can you protect yourself from porch pirates/vestibule/stoop visitors ?  Here are some tips, culled from online articles. 

  • Use package tracking. Know when your package is expected to be delivered (including any changes in arrival times) and make arrangements to ensure your package is not sitting on your porch for an extended period of time . 
  • Require signature upon delivery. This is inconvenient but you can make sure someone is home when your packages are delivered.  (However, we’ve noticed that FedEx, in particular, often drops boxes on porches that say signature required, without waiting for one.)
  • Have your package delivered to an alternative location. This could be a neighbor or a location that accepts  deliveries such as a drug store or Amazon lockers. There are several in and near Bolton Hill.
  • If you have a home security system make it known. Make sure a security  sign is clearly visible. According to research by the University of North Carolina Charlotte, if  security was known by intruders to be present, 87% of them would move on. 
  • Install a camera or a video doorbell. Either one can be a major deterrence to porch piracy. (More about a potential Bolton Hill Camera Network in a future Bulletin.)
  • Install a mailbox sensor. This small device attaches to your mailbox and informs you when your mailbox is opened. The sensor can be paired with your Home Security System, which could provide a video feed and allow you to communicate with whomever has opened your mailbox.
  • Install a lockbox. These lockboxes are specifically designed to receive packages. Lockboxes either have a slot for drivers to drop items into and require a key to open or require a special code you can provide the delivery driver.

–Jim Prost