RICHMOND, Va. (NewsNation) — A new report has listed the City of Richmond as one of the top 10 worst cities for package theft in 2023.
The Seattle metro area is the worst region for package theft in the country as porch pirates continue to plague communities across the U.S., according to SafeWise’s 6th Annual Package Theft Report.
According to the report, thieves stole an estimated 119 million packages nationwide over the past year — a 5% increase from the year prior.
The Emerald City is followed by Memphis, San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California; Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama, Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado and the City of Richmond, taking the number 6 spot on the list.
SafeWise, an online guide to safety and security products, determines its rankings using a combination of FBI larceny-theft statistics and Google Trends data.
The new report comes during a holiday shopping season where U.S. shoppers are expected to spend more than $270 billion online. It’s a time of year when porch pirates are especially active, and holiday gifts aren’t the only reason why.
“People are busier this time of year and have their routine shifted as they may work later and spend more time away from home shopping or visiting with family and friends, so packages are left sitting exposed on the porch for longer,” Ben Stickle, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University and package theft expert, said in a statement.
Three out of four people surveyed by SafeWise said they had a package stolen from their house over the past year. Roughly 40% of respondents said they had more than one taken.
In some cases, like an August incident near Richmond, Virginia, thieves are stealing packages right out of delivery drivers’ hands. In others, porch pirates dress up as Amazon drivers to disguise themselves.
But even with a costume, stealing packages remains a low-entry crime — it doesn’t take skill, and anyone can do it, Stickle noted in the report.
In total, porch pirates caused an estimated $6 billion in losses last year, SafeWise found. Another recent report by Security.org put that total closer to $8 billion.
“The risk is very low as well, and punishment, even if caught, is minimal,” Stickle said.
Some states have tried to address the problem by elevating the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. Missouri Gov. Michael Parson signed legislation enacting tougher punishments for porch pirates earlier this year.
Since 2019, eight other states have passed similar laws to crack down on package theft, according to SafeWise.
Shipping giant UPS has started using artificial intelligence to reduce the risk of delivery theft. The AI technology can determine high-risk theft areas and recommend in-store pickup.
Doorbell cameras have become popular deterrents, but even those haven’t stopped thieves. According to SafeWise, nearly 80% of survey respondents in Washington state used some kind of security measure to protect their packages.
These are the top ten worst cities for package theft according to SafeWise:
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
- Memphis, TN-MS-AR
- San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA
- Birmingham-Hoover, AL
- Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
- Richmond, VA
- Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX
- Greenville-Anderson, SC
- Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI
- Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA