Retail

Porch piracy: why a wave of doorstep parcel thefts is sweeping the UK


Name: Porch piracy.

Age: the phrase porch pirate dates right back to the early 2010s, debuting in Urban Dictionary in 2011.

Oh, so more recent than Blackbeard then? And also Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd, Long John Silver and Captain Jack Sparrow, etc.

Do porch pirates also say: “Arrrrr!” No. Well, maybe sometimes.

But they nick flash cars. Porch! Not Porsche.

They steal your porch? They steal from your porch, or just your doorstep if you haven’t got a porch. It’s all the same to them.

Got it, they nick parcels and packages. Yes! And almost everything in this story begins with a P.

Quick, call the police! They know. Forces, including Greater Manchester and the Met have issued guidance, and Thames Valley Police released a statement telling residents to “look out for one another” after a spate of delivery thefts in the Windsor area.

Was the Queen’s Amazon package taken? No information on that was released, though that would presumably be portcullis piracy or something, and that’s not a thing. Yet.

This is presumably a busy time of year for porch piracy? Exactly. Your neighbourhood groups on Nextdoor and Facebook will be kicking off big time, often accompanied by doorbell footage of someone in a hoodie and mask making off with what they hope is an iPad but is actually that Booker prize-winning novel that was going to be Granny’s Christmas present.

Got any numbers? Citizens Advice reports 22,787 visits to its lost and stolen parcels webpage last month, 48% up on the previous year. And Google Trends data saw a surge in searches for “parcel theft”.

And lots of valuables have been stolen I take it? Yes! Including a set of drawings by the celebrated artist Laura Knight. It was stolen after Royal Mail left the package on a Suffolk art dealer’s doorstep.

A rare occasion when one of those you–weren’t-in-it’s-at-the-post-office cards would have been less annoying! Spare a thought for the delivery drivers too. Their workloads have been hit by Christmas and the pandemic. Deliveries and stops can go into the hundreds, pay is sometimes per delivery, 12- to 14-hour days, traffic …

So what should you do then, if the pirates strike? Contact the seller first. But then it varies, depending on whether Royal Mail or another company delivered it. And on the Ts&Cs, which obviously you didn’t look at before. It’s complicated and annoying, Citizens Advice is calling for a total overhaul of the parcel market.

Do say: “Well maybe he’ll enjoy The Promise by Damon Galgut.”

Don’t say: “Pssst! Got a lovely set of Laura Knights here, if you’re interested …”



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