July 17, 2024

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how to stop a boom in doorstep delinquency

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The writer is a consumer journalist and broadcaster

If you spent yesterday in a Black Friday frenzy, buying festive presents over the internet, how confident are you that Father Christmas and his reindeer couriers will deliver the parcels safely? Or will some grinch have stolen the Lego set and Barbie doll before they make it past your front door?

The post-Covid world has created all sorts of hybrid phenomena that bridge the digital and physical realms: working, wine tasting, book clubs and now, it would seem, burglary. Reports last week suggested that so-called porch piracy in the UK had jumped 500 per cent in the past four years.

Porch piracy is the term given for the disappointing circumstance of ordering something online only to discover that some lowlife has nabbed it from your doorstep. According to Freedom of Information requests sent to police forces across the UK, one in 10 households reported the loss of a package last year. The requests were sent by a technology company called Quadient, which provides parcel lockers, so it has skin in the game. But it estimates there were 16,421 reports of parcel theft in the year to August 2023, up from 2,707 for the same period four years ago.

Britain seems to be in the grip of a neighbourhood crime wave, a 21st century equivalent of the pickpocketing that once blighted Victorian cities. “Oh, yes. It’s very common now,” says my Amazon driver when I quiz him about doorstep theft as he delivers (yet another) parcel. “It’s crazy. Especially in apartment buildings.” Amazon, of course, owns the smart doorbell, Ring, which may be an immensely clever vertically integrated business model: offer unlimited deliveries for £95 a year through Amazon Prime; then sell a £49.99 doorbell that will send you alerts when anyone approaches your front door to steal one of those deliveries. How’s that for…

2023-11-25 00:00:16

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