Boxes on doorstep of house

By Patrick Hearn 

A 2016 study showed that almost 80 percent of Americans shop online. That’s a whole lot of packages delivered to doorsteps. While this way of shopping is certainly convenient, it’s also a little risky. After all, most people aren’t home for much of the day to receive deliveries, leaving them vulnerable to theft. In fact, 1 in 10 people has had a package stolen from their porch. The frequency of this kind of theft increases significantly around the holidays when expensive packages are arriving on doorsteps all over the country every day.

The good news is, you can take steps to protect yourself against package theft with security cameras. Here’s how to use cameras to help secure your porch.

  1. Install visible security cameras.

Thieves want easy targets. Homes without security systems are targeted more often than homes without them, because there is less chance of getting caught. Install security cameras that are visible to visitors—above the front and door and above first-floor windows—so would-be thieves know the home is protected. It’s also a good idea to install a camera high above reach, so that it can’t be easily tampered with or obstructed.

  1. Use a doorbell camera.

A doorbell camera is equipped with motion sensors that alert your smartphone the moment they are activated. This allows you to see a live image of your front door on your phone. The companion app also allows you to speak with whomever is outside your door. Discourage unwelcome visitors by simply addressing them directly (and in the mean time, giving the appearance that you’re actually at home).

You can also protect your deliveries by using the doorbell to instruct delivery people to leave packages in less obvious places.  

  1. Make use of video recording or live monitoring.

With a home security system, your video cameras can be professionally monitored 24/7. When there is unusual activity at your doorstep, you (and the authorities) can be alerted to the activity in real-time. You can also set up rules for notifications. For example, if you’re expecting a package at a certain time, or you want to know when your kids get home, the cameras’ app can send alerts to your phone.

Some camera systems also come with recording capabilities, storing past activities up a week or more, so when a problem does occur, you can submit video evidence to the authorities.

Don’t forget that cameras need the proper lighting. The middle of the day when no one is home is prime time for package thieves, but nighttime is a close second. Install motion-activated porch lights to deter unwanted activity on your porch. You can control your lights and camera through one mobile app if you integrate them via a smart home hub, like one provided by your internet service provider.

Patrick Hearn is an Atlanta-based tech writer for XFINITY Home. When not researching the latest gadget or home security solution, he’s out and about, relying on his own security system to keep his property safe.