I am the queen of the 🐈 💩 📦
December 27, 2017 9:05 AM   Subscribe

"I've been dealing with stolen packages for the last couple of weeks. But the week before Christmas, things got really crazy," Wood told Bustle over the phone. "The delivery person would drop off the package, and before I could even get to it, someone would steal it from my doorstep."

"I realized I had a lot of old Amazon boxes lying around and had an idea," she told Bustle. "You see, my cat is sick and on antibiotics, so the litter box smells *especially* terrible. So, I decided to put my cat's stinky poop in the extra boxes and place those boxes on my doorstep."
posted by Atom Eyes (119 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 


So I assume someone down the street is wondering why their lawn has a pile of Amazon boxes and cat litter on it.
posted by designbot at 9:18 AM on December 27, 2017 [32 favorites]


The picture was clear enough to confirm that there were various perpetrators, but not quite good enough to incriminate anyone specifically

It doesn't matter if it were; the San Francisco police aren't going to do anything.
posted by Nelson at 9:23 AM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


What would you do if you had nearly a dozen packages stolen from your doorstep, over the course of a few weeks?

Well, for starters I'd stop having packages sent to my home address. Maybe get a P.O. box at a nearby mailing store or something.
posted by dnash at 9:24 AM on December 27, 2017 [49 favorites]


But then what am I supposed to do with all this cat poop?
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:27 AM on December 27, 2017 [31 favorites]


Hey, neat, I was livejournal friends with Cameo back in the day.

Mid-December, we were walking home and passed a park bench that was strewn with opened Amazon boxes that came from the apartment complex across the street. We called the cops, but they were pretty unimpressed. If someone swiped an item that cost 20 bucks from a local shop, the cops would send two cars. Judging by the invoice papers fluttering in the wind, this was several hundred dollars worth of theft, but still the level of interest in the crime was depressingly low.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:30 AM on December 27, 2017 [21 favorites]


But then what am I supposed to do with all this cat poop?

send it to mnuchin
posted by entropicamericana at 9:33 AM on December 27, 2017 [40 favorites]


Yeah, I am honestly starting to wonder what the police are actually good for. They don’t go after bike thieves, they don’t chase package thieves, They don’t respond to women being harassed and threatened, is there literally anything they accomplish other than harassing poor people and minorities?
posted by corb at 9:42 AM on December 27, 2017 [157 favorites]


Yeah, I am honestly starting to wonder what the police are actually good for.... is there literally anything they accomplish

well they—

other than harassing poor people and minorities?

nevermind
posted by entropicamericana at 9:47 AM on December 27, 2017 [92 favorites]


Yes, they protect capital and the owners of capital.

Ever notice how "property damage" is such a big deal compared to "loss of human life" when it comes to protesting in places like Baltimore?

It's because the entire system is set up to value capital and those who own capital as more important than people.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:48 AM on December 27, 2017 [65 favorites]


At least they're fulfilling their Prime Directive.
posted by delfin at 9:49 AM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I mean, that's kind of why police abolitionism is a thing?

I'm not saying I'm 100% sold on the idea, but I will say this: once it had been planted in my brain, I kept noticing situations where people were already doing what the abolitionists say we'd do in a world without cops — having to figure out alternative nonviolent ways of keeping ourselves and our stuff safe because it turned out the police weren't interested.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:51 AM on December 27, 2017 [53 favorites]


Somewhat along a similar line is today's xkcd...
posted by jim in austin at 9:53 AM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


Uber, but for cops. Ripe area for 'disruption', or Black Mirror episode premise?
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:54 AM on December 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


"Uber, but for cops" isn't the Libertarian Police Force? Or, more reasonably, private security companies.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:59 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


A different perspective: the delivery service/shipper is responsible for getting your parcel to you. "We left it on your doorstep out in the open for six hours" is not "getting your parcel to you". Getting it securely in your hands is time-consuming, difficult, and expensive, and what's happening now is that the shippers are basically happy to let this be an externality. So now publicly-funded cops are expected to keep boxes dumped out on your doorstep safe. That's a super regressive attitude that I'm sure makes UPS very, very happy.
posted by phooky at 10:00 AM on December 27, 2017 [101 favorites]


i suppose this is why Amazon Key actually got some serious consideration? also, how much is a P.O. box? i never had to deal with one so i've no idea what's involved.
posted by numaner at 10:00 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Uber, but for cops" isn't the Libertarian Police Force? Or, more reasonably, private security companies.

You could take it that way, you could also take it in the "Black Panthers in the 21st and a half century" way.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:01 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm not for complete police abolition. Instead, I want to see the police move to a reactive system similar to the fire department.

Fire brigades used to be nasty rackets, and even caused fires that they could then put out.

The only difference between the police of today and the fire brigades of yesteryear is that the police aren't (necessarily) private. But if police were limited to acting on calls and reported crimes, rather than actively searching for crime (that may not be happening), they'd be much more useful.

Think about it: firefighters and even EMTs are beyond reproach, because they only show up when someone needs them. On the other hand, if the police are around, it's often because they're looking for trouble. They'd be loved a lot more if they only showed up when called.
posted by explosion at 10:04 AM on December 27, 2017 [45 favorites]


Of the Black Panthers and private security forces, only one of those groups has ended up being treated as terrorists.

This is a hell of a derail though.
posted by at by at 10:04 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


The best thing about my private police force is that they defend my right to open other people's boxes.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:09 AM on December 27, 2017 [17 favorites]


Do non-US Mail delivery services deliver to PO boxes now? Back in the day when my family had a PO box, UPS and FedEx wouldn't deliver to a PO box. Has that changed?
posted by palomar at 10:12 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


While cat shit is what these thieves deserve, it is probably time to look into the Amazon Locker thing at Whole Foods, if this is chronic.
posted by thelonius at 10:12 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Every time I've had a package stolen from my doorstep, Amazon has refunded or redelivered it immediately. I assume Amazon and their delivery services (including the notoriously awful Ontrac) see doorstop theft as part of the price of doing business. It's galling, but it's the way it is.

Since I've derailed the discussion entirely with complaints about SF cops; I'm much more worried about the lack of enforcement with bike theft, car breakins, and the worst, muggings. The last the cops do at least say they care about.
posted by Nelson at 10:23 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


I wonder what percentage of random stolen packages contain anything remotely worth taking by someone else. I guess around Christmas you're more likely to get something potentially valuable, but there have to also be a lot of random unresellable gewgaws. A few years ago during a move someone walked off with my roommates' 5 year old, kind of gross microwave, and I think they were ultimately doing us a service by taking away something that was just barely on the Not Trash side of the line.
posted by Copronymus at 10:23 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


I dunno, I found an obviously stolen-then-rifled-and-discarded package in my back yard a few years ago, called the local PD largely because I felt bad just throwing it out, and they sent—no shit—two detectives. Granted one was a trainee of some sort, and it must have been a slow day, but they collected everything up and bagged it as evidence, the whole nine yards. I doubt they recovered much, because the package had been sitting outside for more than a week, but they certainly put on a good show.

Also, years ago an acquaintance got involved in what he thought was the incredibly brilliant scheme of copying down credit card numbers (by double-printing receipts) and then buying stuff with them online. He got away with it for a few months, generally having packages sent to unoccupied houses, until eventually he went to pick up a package and a SWAT team jumped out from the bushes and had him kissing the pavement at gunpoint. (He ended up with community service and restitution, so it's not like the seriousness carries through to the court system.) I can only presume that a suburban police force in possession of a SWAT team, must be in rather desperate want of criminals to go after with it.

So, yeah... land of contrasts.

Of course, you don't have to be Che fucking Guevara to notice that the same types of urban-adjacent-suburbs willing to roll out a tactical team for larceny are also the same sort of places where you can literally get away with murder, if the murder weapon is an Audi Q7. But nobody's gonna fuck with your Amazon packages, so there's that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:33 AM on December 27, 2017 [22 favorites]


UPS and FedEx will both deliver to retail locations where you can pick things up. It's obviously not as convenient as stuff coming to your doorstep but is way more convenient than having things stolen and I would certainly do that before I gave Amazon a key to my door.
posted by mark k at 10:33 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


how much is a P.O. box?

Due to security issues with apartment mailboxes, I maintained a PO box for 30 years. Over that time the rate's risen from about $20 for six months to just under $50. You pay either for six months or a year, each time. The quality of service depends on the post office, so choose wisely. Ideally you'll get one with a separate window for package pick-up, with longer hours.

Do non-US Mail delivery services deliver to PO boxes now? Back in the day when my family had a PO box, UPS and FedEx wouldn't deliver to a PO box. Has that changed?

In theory, yes, you can receive a FedEx or UPS package at your USPS PO box. That's what they tell me at the post office, anyway. But when I try to get UPS to actually deliver something to my PO box, they refuse, citing post office policy.
posted by Rash at 10:36 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


We live in what our realtor euphemistically calls "a neighbourhood in transition"--though after three years here, I'd say it's more gentrified than the local FB neighbourhood page makes it out to be--so around Christmas, I tend to have any Amazon packages delivered to our local Shoppers Canada Post outlet. It takes the guesswork out of "will that gift I bought for my husband get stolen." My SIL sent us a package for Christmas and we've not seen hide nor hair of it. It's either late or someone now has a lot of oatcakes and tea bags from the UK this week.
posted by Kitteh at 10:37 AM on December 27, 2017


UPS and FedEx will both deliver to retail locations where you can pick things up.

I was surprised (in as good a way as I can be by corporate anything these days) to discover that my closest available FedEx pickup point is just the Walgreens down the road, now. As these developments go, that was a very good one. I don't have a package theft problem but apparently UPS has a key to get into the building and Fedex doesn't, and I don't often get anything from Fedex, so I was feeling some dread when I saw the notice on the outside door. But nope, the pickup process was really painless.
posted by Sequence at 10:38 AM on December 27, 2017


Think about it: firefighters and even EMTs are beyond reproach, because they only show up when someone needs them.

This isn't strictly true - firefighters also do "inspections" which are usually by surprise and can lead to substantial fines should they find something amiss.

Don't get me wrong - businesses and buildings should be inspected for safety. But... in crappier towns, firefighters exist to extract money from the politically unconnected.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:40 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Germany does one better; it's normal to have packages delivered to the nearby Späti. That's the convenience store, the one that's mysteriously open way past allowed hours and sells some mediocre baked goods, random convenience store items, and most importantly beer. It seemed very convenient for everyone. Drivers have an easier delivery, customers have an easy pickup, and the Späti gets more customers in the door.
posted by Nelson at 10:41 AM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Several years ago I had a package stolen from the vestibule of my apartment building. The item in the unmarked box was a pair of pettipants... a ladies' undergarment akin to a half-slip, except it's ruffle-trimmed, mid-thigh-length pantalettes meant to help with "chub rub" under skirts. I wore size XXXL at the time.

I get great glee from picturing some asshole eagerly opening my purloined box to discover a giant pair of lady's bloomers.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:42 AM on December 27, 2017 [78 favorites]


I can only presume that a suburban police force in possession of a SWAT team, must be in rather desperate want of criminals to go after with it.

I see what you did there
posted by thelonius at 10:42 AM on December 27, 2017 [12 favorites]


I think they were ultimately doing us a service by taking away something that was just barely on the Not Trash side of the line.

Says the person who didn't wind up owning the enormous combination microwave convection oven my parents got me to replace it, moving it from storage room to storage room in places that have built in microwaves.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:52 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


I wonder what percentage of random stolen packages contain anything remotely worth taking by someone else.

A used yogurt maker that I had bought off ebay was stolen from my building vestibule years ago. I saw it there early one Sunday morning as I was going out for coffee, and I thought it would be safe for the 20 minutes it would take for me to get my coffee and come back. When I got back it was gone, gone, gone. It freaked me out so completely that I never had packages delivered to my home again (always to my office).
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:55 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Due to the ongoing package theft issues in my building and the less-than-cooperativeness of our apartment office in regards to accepting and not losing packages, several years ago I started having all packages delivered to me at my office. Which works out just dandy most of the time. But there was that one nerve-wracking incident where Amazon decided to ship a sex toy I had ordered via their stupid unreliable Amazon Logistics service. The package was supposed to be delivered on Friday, which had that happened, the package would have been delivered safely to the front desk. Unfortunately, it did not arrive before we closed for the day.

Saturday I get a text message saying "your package has been delivered!" and spent a tense couple of days envisioning it leaning up against the warehouse door in a box so tattered from two days exposure to the weather that my "Blush G-Spot Slimline Vibrator" might be hanging out of it to greet whoever arrived at work first in the morning. But thankfully the box was on my desk intact when I arrived.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:57 AM on December 27, 2017 [12 favorites]


Taking bets now on this being stealth Amazon Key marketing.
posted by haruspicina at 11:03 AM on December 27, 2017 [12 favorites]


What a coincidence. I just did this very thing last week. Some asshole keeps cutting open the Amazon boxes on our front steps, and rifling through their contents. By pure happenstance, the two times he hit us, the boxes contained cat food and [unused] cat litter, respectively, so he didn't even bother stealing them. FexEx randomly decides, on a given day, whether to leave packages on our front doorstep or deliver them to the holding location, a travel agency down the street that keeps 10-5 hours and is impossible to retrieve something from without taking half a day off of work. Neither option is ideal, and pleading with FedEx to do one or the other doesn't seem to impact the likelihood of either outcome happening.

So! To our package thief. I actually went a little further than Cat Poop Lady--I wanted to make sure the purloined package wasn't left on the steps like the last two, so I convinced a coworker to give me the box from his new iPhone. I then stuffed this small box with my 8-month-old's handiwork, the most godawful diaper I've changed this year. A hairdryer and some Saran Wrap later, this appealing-looking little number went into an old Amazon box, and back onto the porch.

Unfortunately I don't have a video recording of what ensued, but the results were not left on my front yard, so I can only assume they were discovered either by the thief himself, or by the owner of whatever shady pawn shop he uses to fence stolen goods. As with the author of TFA, the local police have no interest in solving the rampant theft problem, so it's up to us unscrupulous vigilantes to keep the thieves in check.
posted by Mayor West at 11:03 AM on December 27, 2017 [41 favorites]


Another similar tale:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/12/19/this-angry-inventor-has-a-special-gift-for-package-thieves-revenge
posted by elizilla at 10:15 AM on December 27 [2 favorites +] [!]


Oh there are so many ways this could go wrong!
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:04 AM on December 27, 2017


FWIW my solution to package theft has been to just get stuff delivered to Amazon lockers. There are a lot in my city so they are fairly convenient, typically in convenience or grocery stores. It's not a good solution if you're getting a ton of everyday stuff delivered (laundry detergent/groceries) on a frequent basis or if you have any sort of mobility disability, but I try to shop local and only use Amazon in the cases of stuff I can't find in brick and mortar stores so it works well for me.
posted by matcha action at 11:07 AM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


We have intermittent package-theft issues in my building, but since I work from home we have mostly dealt with it through signing up for every conceivable notification service. Granted, we usually get the notification 20 min before we get the package, but...better than nothing, I guess.

Plus, our building is a small one, full of kindly folk who make substantial use of Amazon Prime, etc. So we all try to do our best, and bring any packages that show up into the locked part of the vestibule as soon as we see them.

Nothing has worked quite as well, however, as my decision this summer to set up my home office in front of a first-floor window overlooking the vestibule. What I observed, at least once a week, was this:

A UPS or FedEx truck would pull up, and drop off a bunch of packages. Like clockwork, a stranger (I know all my neighbors, at least by sight) would "casually" stroll past, then suddenly duck into our courtyard. When they emerged, carrying the packages, I would poke my head out of the window and say "OH HI THERE! HOW CAN I HELP YOU?"

It is not un-amusing to watch someone try to "casually" stroll away, after leaping a foot in the air and "casually" dropping six FedEx envelopes on the ground.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:09 AM on December 27, 2017 [60 favorites]


Do non-US Mail delivery services deliver to PO boxes now? Back in the day when my family had a PO box, UPS and FedEx wouldn't deliver to a PO box. Has that changed?

As far as I know, no, things haven't changed and for a lot of things you still need a real street address that isn't a USPS P.O. box. I think the only packages you can receive at a P.O. box are USPS packages. You can get UPS and FedEx packages at their retail stores, but not everyone has one of those within a reasonable distance, especially if you're living somewhere rural or rural-ish.

So "get it delivered at work" or "use a PO box" aren't always options. Getting personal packages delivered at work is definitely a white collar job privilege. Try that at a wage slave job slinging coffee and you'll likely get fired.

I've had to struggle with receiving packages on the road and/or homeless before and it can be a huge pain in the ass. One of the only options available is having things held at a local PO for pickup, and if you're not a resident and you're in a rural area not used to getting general delivery packages (say, a PO along a major hiking trail) that can get all kinds of weird.

Package thieves and related crimes of petty theft piss me off to an irrational extent. Like I start finding myself agreeing with seriously draconian, dark ages punishments like chopping off thumbs and fingers for repeat and unrepentant offenders. I have incredibly strong feelings about bicycle thieves that can be mapped to capital punishment rules for horse thieves - because when you steal someone's bike you're not just stealing someone's transportation to work, but you're also stealing a friend. Bikes are very intimate and personal.

I think part of my lack of compassion for petty thieves, package thieves in particular, is that in my experience it's not quite as driven by economic forces like addiction or homelessness.

Everything I've seen about package thieves in particular is that they're most often just opportunistic pieces of human shit lacking in ethics or morals. Like, every time I've seen a package thief get caught or confronted on camera (or in person) they immediately start acting like it was an accident or mistake, or then that it's not such a big deal and it's a victimless crime because it'll be replaced anyway, and then when pushed they'll get all entitled and outraged and angry that they're even being confronted at all.

So these people go around grabbing packages at random, and they end up taking things like people's medications, kid's toys and even totally useless crap like boxes of diapers. And it's not like they go put this stuff back when they find out it's not an iPad or something with resale value. "Oh, sorry. I was hoping this was a laptop, not some diabetes meds."

And the problem with people getting direly needed medical supplies stolen and having to wait for replacements isn't a small problem. I've seen this come up on city subreddits over and over again. It sometimes includes trips to the ER to get emergency treatment or medication. It's not as harmless as someone not getting a box of Lego for Christmas.

And, of course, package thieves target individuals because they know it is less risky than, say, just going shoplifting. That the police are much less likely to respond to reports from witnesses watching them steal packages in real time than they are to a shoplifting call - because of how police are designed to protect businesses and capital first, not citizens. They know that the police aren't even likely to show up at all, and if they do it'll be hours.

So there's this cowardly aspect as well that irrationally pisses me off, that they don't have the cajones to be a proper thief and go hit up some big box stores, and instead are perfectly happy stealing unknown boxed goods ranging from kitty litter to diapers from random citizens and aaaaaargh cut off their thumbs! A finger! Brand their forehead with "Package Thief", or send them to Australia!

*takes a breath* Ok, back in reality.

I think one of the reasons why I'm so emotionally invested in this is that over the last couple of years I've had to receive some very important and basically irreplaceable packages, and I don't often get attached to "stuff" at all. One of these things is a camera that's a hand-me-down from my mom. The camera can be replaced. The fact that it was my mom's camera that's shes taken on trips to Europe and all over the world cannot be replaced with a new camera. Finding this particular camera used isn't easy, either, so it would be some amount of work to even find a working replacement - and it still wouldn't be this camera.

The thought of some random jerkass petty package thief even touching or getting their hands on this camera or even thinking about stealing it makes me so angry I can practically shoot laser beams out of my eyes. Like, it's impressive how angry this topic makes me, as it's usually reserved for politicians and oligarchs. I definitely don't get this outraged about shoplifters or even bank robbers.

But in the case of package thieves, there's a lot of facets and numbers that just keep adding up to "Fuck you, you piece of human garbage."


Actually, I think I just had an idea. Bank robbery style dye packs that can only be deactivated via bluetooth and a strong cryptographic key system. The shipping industry already has stuff like shock/tilt sensors, so a Bluetooth Low Energy widget with some dye packs would be pretty affordable. The dye pack gets activated only after it's been tagged for delivery, and any attempt to pick it up or move it before disarming it remotely causes it to explode.

It gets around US mantrapping laws that prevents someone from legally, say, boobytrapping a package with a stun gun or taser. (Or scaring them with a shotgun blank.)

You could also make it an optional shipping cost item, because not all customers would need this. People who live in urban Seattle would probably love this.
posted by loquacious at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2017 [49 favorites]


The only way the poopbox scenario could be better is if the package exploded the shit in the thief's face, but I suppose that's "against the law" or something stupid like that.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:26 AM on December 27, 2017 [14 favorites]


While cat shit is what these thieves deserve, it is probably time to look into the Amazon Locker thing at Whole Foods, if this is chronic.

Said the person who has clearly not tried to get something delivered to an Amazon locker, and most certainly not around the holidays. The closest one with capacity when I last checked (during a non-holiday) was 45 minutes away by car.


Taking bets now on this being stealth Amazon Key marketing.

I mean it would be nice to live in an environment where I could have packages left at my door, and not the one where I've been subpoenaed to testify as a witness against the man who broke into my garage 6 times this year. Is the hate-on for Amazon Key lashing out at the presumed suburban target demographic? Because my mailman already has a key to my building, just as he has a key to all the buildings on my street. It just happens to be a physical one.
posted by danny the boy at 11:26 AM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


We don't have a lot of package theft problems where I live -- I can think of one, maybe two in sixteen years. I have more of an issue lately with Amazon's drivers bunging up the last mile delivery in and of itself -- either leaving it at the bottom of the stairwell instead of looking for the right apartment door, leaving it by the wrong door, leaving it elsewhere in the building, or (my favorite) leaving it in the leasing office's lobby up the road and putting it down as "handed directly to resident," with the occasional Lost in Transit to liven things up.

9 out of 10 packages do get here without a problem from them, but it has been getting more frequently lately.

UPS used to make a big deal about requiring a signature on every apartment delivery; when I used to get minor league hockey jerseys frequently off of eBay, I was a regular down at the UPS handling place where they'd take it after knocking and getting no answer. These days they don't bother.
posted by delfin at 11:28 AM on December 27, 2017


Said the person who has clearly not tried to get something delivered to an Amazon locker

In fact, I have not used the service yet. I was assuming that it works.
posted by thelonius at 11:29 AM on December 27, 2017


Yeah, I am honestly starting to wonder what the police are actually good for.

Just the 1st layer of protection keeping one class of people unaccountable AND act as the most visible reminder of the separation of "us" and "them".

Other layers are the DA with 'prosecutiorial discretion'. Official records that 'vanish' the closer you get to actually get to accountability become another layer.

The older way of having transcripts be edited will run right into the ability to create synthetic audio (VoCo) and AI edited video so the 2nd/3rd hand observer won't know what is true/false.

Why do people think there is a problem if almost all of the above is old hat?

The multitude of civilian cameras are making it hard to hide the flaws that have always been there. The ability to have anyone share these recordings are one viral video away from being known. So now 3rd parties have a chance at seeing what others have seen and not be out of hand dismissed as wrong.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:31 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


In fact, I have not used the service yet. I was assuming that it works.

Why would you assume a silly thing like that?
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:31 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Fortunately, Amazon/Fedex/UPS usually are able to get into our building and leave packages in the vestibule.

That is, they're able to do that if they deliver to the front door, instead of delivering to the basement door of the building, under the garbage bins.

Or instead of delivering it to a totally different building altogether.

Is there a cat poop solution to that problem? 'Cos I'm all ears.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:36 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


One almost wishes there was something like a letterbox, only bigger, like for dropping parcels. A Parcel Drop Box perhaps.
posted by Laotic at 11:39 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


The cost of a USPS post box varies depending on size and office location. (Duration is a factor, too -- there are promotions when full-year rental adds another month of service.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:40 AM on December 27, 2017


Germany does one better; it's normal to have packages delivered to the nearby Späti.

Usually the delivery people try to load off packages at a neighboring apartment if nobody is home. If you live at the bottom floor of an apartment building, you can expect several rings per day from various delivery services, even if you're not expecting anything. I believe Spätis take a fee which is probably why they do this, and it's been in the news lately as a controversial practice.
posted by romanb at 11:41 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


A Parcel Drop Box perhaps.

I think the cat poop would just accumulate if you used on of these.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:42 AM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


There are approximately 100,000 pharmacies within a 10 block radius of my house and every single one of them is a licensed ups point where packages can be held for you if you miss delivery, it's so great.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:45 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


But if police were limited to acting on calls and reported crimes, rather than actively searching for crime (that may not be happening), they'd be much more useful.

Wait, how do you think the police work? With some exceptions (although “Broken Windows” based policing in on the outs), working calls is how 99% of police work happens. Cops aren’t driving around waiting for people to flag them down for stuff.
posted by sideshow at 11:48 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


This "Amazon" you speak of sounds really convenient and hassle free.
posted by bongo_x at 11:56 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Cops aren’t driving around waiting for people to flag them down for stuff.

No, they're driving around looking for people to hassle, which is worse.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:56 AM on December 27, 2017 [14 favorites]


Serious question then: what’s a solution to the police/theft situation that doesn’t boil down to: the police are allowed to stop/frisk anyone in the neighborhood deemed “different”?
posted by sideshow at 12:02 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


My apartment building has a locker system in the lobby for all deliveries, so it's not Amazon-specific, but a similar deal. It's pretty much the best thing. Meanwhile the downtown where I live has no good pharmacy or corner store that's open late. And no grocery store at all. Ugh.
posted by defenestration at 12:05 PM on December 27, 2017


As with the author of TFA, the local police have no interest in solving the rampant theft problem, so it's up to us unscrupulous vigilantes to keep the thieves in check.

The Libertarian solution would be: open source software project of pre-loading a 'high value' interactive tracking device (called a cell phone) combined with deployment in states that allow citizens to file criminal charges directly with a court or Grand Jury to bypass the police/DA gatekeeper along with some open record work ahead of time to establish how many reports of these events are ignored. They will call it citizen journalism.

The less capital intensive version (because software development is "Free" as in $0) would be taking the idea of the never code released f-bomb project, the wifi/bluetooth ranging code and using it + a couple of ARM based SoC devices and make an interactive map of the devices in the area with the idea the package thief has a working phone. Wanna spend wicked big money - make the same version for software radio that can gather actual cell data.

Want VC money - combine the radio data with camera data along with time and location. Toss in facial recognition and sprinkle with "AI" and "blockchain".

I suppose that's "against the law" or something stupid like that.

The safest bet is with almost any idea, generically, you have violates some law. That assumption is how the book 3 felonies a day and the inability to count the number of criminal laws federally is how one gets to that assumption. Dressing up like 'an official' is typically a violation. No idea if USP/FedEx outfits qualify. Sending fecal matter 'in the mail' I remember being claimed to be a federal violation. Now with USPS doing "last mile" shipping - did you violate the "no poop" rules? Mantrapping is typically a violation - so the shotgun blank package strikes me as a violation. Tracking cell phones - do you want to be the test case? Bluetooth/WiFi data gathering with geolocation and time data MIGHT be a problem after the code is used in a stalker-murderer case. Sending a live radio in a package - I'd swear a blog article/podcast mentioned THAT is not legal. Say you have 4K video of the thief and want to ask "the public" if they know who the person is....possible civil lawsuit. Depending on the contract you sign for facial recognition you could be in violation when you take the 21MP camera captured image from your system to try and ID the person.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:09 PM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


For a while, I had a non-USPS post office box. It was in a hardware store and the bus stop nearest to my workplace was right in front of it, so I was there almost every day anyways, very convenient. They had PO Boxes just like the ones at the post office, but it was not a post office so you could not give your address as "PO Box 129". You used the street address of the store, and then tacked on "Suite 129" or "Apt 129" or just a nondescript "#129". The store was open later than the bus ran; I never found it closed.

The reason I discovered this solution was that there was an actual WAITING LIST for boxes at the post office I wanted to get a box from, and the post office clerk told me about these guys.

They accepted parcels from all services and held them at the counter for me to pick up. The cost was $20 or $30 per year. It was great; I used it as my mailing address for years while I was a student and moving all the time. I always thought it made me look more reliable, to have this non-PO Box address that lasted for years and was in a tonier zipcode outside the student ghetto.

Anyways, if I were having package theft problems I might get another box like that.
posted by elizilla at 12:14 PM on December 27, 2017 [14 favorites]


Jesus. The reason the cops aren’t doing anything is because no one wants go though all the effort to arrest someone who will be back on the street before the arrest paperwork is filed. Your Batman-esque vigilante solution is very many orders of magnitude more expensive and complicated to be worth while.

However, if it keeps the techno-libertarian bros busy for a while, guess it can’t be all bad.
posted by sideshow at 12:16 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


When my mom was a kid, she got revenge on someone by feeding them a goat-shit sandwich. Inspired by her story, I made a cayenne-pepper filled creme cookie surprise for the kid who kept stealing my lunch in second grade. As an adult, I'm astonished to realize how well it worked. Not only did the lunch thefts stop, but the idiot thief outed himself to me by asking too many about my cookies in the following days. Filling the porches of Noe Valley with decoy boxes seems like a fine approach to me.

I'm adding package theft somewhere between shoveling snow and roof repair on the list of frustrating things I haven't had to think about since moving into a very large multi-unit building. (Which, I realize, isn't possible for everyone. But is pretty great.)
posted by eotvos at 12:16 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Easy....order your all your stuff from another country, you'll have to pay brokerage fees and they won't leave the box until you've paid! (don't do that UPS brokerage fees are insane)

I don't know if rules are different in Canada but usually UPS/CanadaPost will not leave packages unattended at my house. I've had a few packages left at the door (in a hard to spot from the street spot), but they were always from other delivery services which I really try to avoid.

I'm on the fence with the package theft & police involvement, its a crime, but I'm pretty sure I'd prefer police to prioritize situation not caused by dumb ass delivery drivers. Around here if your house gets robbed, they'll come take your statement and issue a report for insurances purposes but I know of only one instance where a robber got caught (because he was a dumbass and kept burglarizing houses very close to each other). For bicycles they'll do it over the phone, they started a bike marking program but supposedly most bikes get sent oversea in containers so it doesn't help much.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 12:22 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Serious question then: what’s a solution to the police/theft situation that doesn’t boil down to: the police are allowed to stop/frisk anyone in the neighborhood deemed “different”?

I suppose one option would be to create a society where no one was so immiserated that grabbing random unknown stuff on the off chance that one of the boxes has something good seems like a worthwhile use of their time, but this is 2017, so I'm going to guess there's no reasonable solution to the theft side and all the solutions will focus on limiting the places packages can be delivered to until everything goes through an Amazon/UPS/whatever storefront and screw you if that's not a reasonable distance away or costs money to access.
posted by Copronymus at 12:22 PM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


Public police forces were pretty much invented to combat the inevitable problems with private police forces. The current police situation is bad, but so is this one.

It seems like a few well-placed, well publicized roundup/sting operations would be at least a first step to resolving the problem. I have no idea how to make everyone's local cops actually do that, though. Maybe Amazon would need to be behind it, rather than a bunch of ragtag citizens with relatively minor losses.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:30 PM on December 27, 2017


"Require delivery drivers to follow delivery instructions." would be a nice start. My house is on a corner and one door has a sign indicating that packages should be left inside the other door's vestibule. This entryway is not locked, but it does keep the packages out of sight and weather. I doubt a thief will want to steal the giant stack of plywood panels that are sitting in a box, but rain will sure as sure leave them unusable.

I can give drivers a bit of a pass during the busy holiday season, but not to the point I'm out 50 bucks in warped wood because they did not follow directions.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:30 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


He says he has sold about 50 [Blank Boxes] and had 477 preorders as of Monday. Barrow says he’s shipping them as fast as he can make them, capitalizing on an untapped market as more and more people are becoming reliant on having boxes delivered to their door.

It would be great if everyone who ordered a Blank Box had it stolen off their porch
posted by ejs at 12:34 PM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


I am the queen of the 🐈 💩 📦


Am I the only one who feels strangely compelled to sing this to the tune of "I Am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy" from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:42 PM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


The assumption is that a box of shit will stop this.
It won't.
Will it gross out the theives?
Yes. Briefly.
But a box of shit to them is worth about as much as a box with some screws and baby bottles: nothing. They throw it by the side of the road with the rest of the trash.
They're fishing for something they can fence and a box of shit won't stop that.
posted by plinth at 12:45 PM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/12/19/this-angry-inventor-has-a-special-gift-for-package-thieves-revenge

I'm surprised the inventor says this took so much work to develop, given that sketchy catalogs have been full of shotgun "blank" tripwire detonators for years; they are a common redneck-engineering item, typically used to, um, "deter" poachers.

They come with many warnings stating that they are absolutely not to be used with non-blank shotgun shells, thereby making it clear that they will totally function with non-blank shotgun shells.

I mean that's the eventual endgame that this leads to.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:55 PM on December 27, 2017


The (independently owned and managed) pet store on our block will accept packages for anyone in the neighborhood. Most of the buildings are not doorman-buildings but many also don't have receiving rooms. Our 6-flat does not have a doorman, but one retired guy, one stay-at-home-parent, one work from home all the time, and two random-work-from-home residents.

The UPS guy whose route includes our building is a nice guy and he chats with Spouse (the work from home all the tine resident) every time he comes by or any time he passes us on the street. Amazon's "last mile" random contractors are super-great about reading the little sign that say "All package deliveries ring BELL NAMED SPOUSE". They are all friendly as well.

The FedEx drivers? They leave all packages on the stoop, OUTSIDE the unlocked gate, 10 feet from an intersection so busy that 4 bus routes stop there. If the package requires a signature, they donm't ring any bell, they just leave the "no-one home" card. We have literally watched tracking info change from "out for delivery" to "no-one home" while sitting in the house, waiting for the bell to ring. I hate FedEx with a fiery passion.

Nonetheless, filling boxes with cat shit because people steal the packages the carrier is not responsible with seems. . . dumb to me.
posted by crush at 1:19 PM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


what’s a solution to the police/theft situation that doesn’t boil down to: the police are allowed to stop/frisk anyone in the neighborhood deemed “different”?

Right now, my neighborhood is going through a string of both package robberies and car break-ins of unlocked vehicles. In many cases, photos have been taken of the robbers, because everyone has cameras on their house. The police have done nothing with this.

They could be looking at the photos and comparing them to mugshots, or inviting people to look through mugshots. They could be taking prints of the cars broken into. But they don’t, because they don’t actually care when citizens have things stolen.
posted by corb at 1:20 PM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Its sometimes a pain but if need be get the package with signature required?
posted by Perry Knife Works at 1:25 PM on December 27, 2017


Am I the only one who feels strangely compelled to sing this to the tune of "I Am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy" from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore?

oh my gOD first of all it's called "i am the monarch of the sea" and secondly it reminds me more of the first lines of the jungle book's "i wanna be like you"
posted by poffin boffin at 1:27 PM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


Having packages stolen totally sucks and I think shipping companies/merchants ultimately have to bear the brunt of the problem if a person has made a reasonable effort to not have their packages stolen, but I must say I am totally against the idea that cops should do random mugshot searches or increased policing for low level thieves. I didn't call the cops when someone pawed through my shit in my unlocked car for the same reason I would never call the cops on a loud party - I don't want cops in my business and I don't want to put them into someone else's business (especially someone who is demographically more likely to have a worse time with cops than some others).
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:41 PM on December 27, 2017 [11 favorites]


Its sometimes a pain but if need be get the package with signature required?

A million years ago I needed to send a pistol back to the manufacturer for a repair. I spent an hour waiting on line at a UPS depot to fill out all the required declarations and paperwork. A few weeks later the pistol was shipped back to me. I came home one evening and found the package sitting by the mailboxes at my then apartment building. I am quite certain that the shipper sent it w/o requiring a signature, let alone one from an adult.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 1:43 PM on December 27, 2017


But they don’t, because they don’t actually care when citizens have things stolen.

Consider using your political organizing skills and become the bigger irritant.
Start asking for information via open records of the law enforcement arm that tie to the issue and have others do the same - ideally via people from out of town. The local police will suddenly take an interest and if the reaction is to stop asking questions by outsiders then the feedback loop will be complete. For added fun, have someone reach out after the request is made saying how they are a reporter wanting to interview someone about the situation. If you are doing your open record requests right the letter you get will be about how the county has their lawyers reviewing your request before granting it

And who knows - you might actually find a problem.

"Locally" a person who ran a multi-billion dollar business had his car broken into and radio stolen. And the local cops who take hours IF they ever come handled the issue the same way they do with every car break in and theft. That is to say nothing was done. 3 days later said person had a press conference and stated his desire to expand his business AND how said local town was out of the running due to his car break in. Amazingly, someone was found to have been the person who did the deed less than a week later.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:54 PM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


My wife put a sign on the front door asking delivery people to walk the packages around to the side of the house and so far that's solved the issue of them getting swiped from the front stoop. Thieves here are apparently willing to grab something as they walk by but not open a garden gate and walk to the side porch.
posted by octothorpe at 2:29 PM on December 27, 2017


The pettipants story reminds me that I got a notice that four ounces of fluff* was delivered yesterday, but the package was nowhere to be found. Now, sometimes my thoughtful postal carrier will save a package and deliver it the next day when there's no room in the parcel lockers, but if someone took it, I wonder what the hell they think when they open a nice looking box and it's full of pretty, shiny, green (but utterly useless if you're not a fiber artist) fluff.

*I spin yarn.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:40 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


that they don't have the cajones to be a proper thief

This typo amuses me greatly because a cajón is a big box.
posted by chainsofreedom at 2:50 PM on December 27, 2017 [23 favorites]


UPS and FedEx will both deliver to retail locations
Not always - a friend shipped some things from an AZ UPS store to another UPS store in MN and the MN store refused to accept them because the friend doesn't rent a box there. The AZ store told him to use the MN store.
posted by soelo at 3:04 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you have a post office box in a post office that supports it, you can supposedly sign up for street addressing for PO box and receive packages from not-USPS package delivery companies (e.g. UPS and FedEx) as long as you put the ship-to address as the street address for your box.
posted by fireoyster at 3:23 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


We ship a lot of packages within Canada, and there's always one person who complains about shipping costs and expects us to just put the thing in a padded envelope and send it letter mail. This one person is the reason we use tracked shipping because they'll invariably lose their package and try to make a claim against us.
posted by scruss at 3:28 PM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


I wonder what the hell they think when they open a nice looking box and it's full of pretty, shiny, green (but utterly useless if you're not a fiber artist) fluff.

I had a set of lace blocking wires go astray, and had to ask the merchant to resend. Second set ended up being delivered to somebody else's door in a nearby alley, and I'd never have known except that I walked around looking for the things.

And then there was the time I ordered moth traps from Amazon. The box was missing from its parcel locker after it was supposed to have been delivered, but turned up in a sitting-open parcel locker a week later, having been opened. Guess somebody didn't want moth traps. Go figure.

Just to add to the list of delivery failures or thefts in the "useless if you're not a fiber artist" category.
posted by asperity at 3:33 PM on December 27, 2017


I have a slot and shared porch with three other apartments in a garden style complex. Anything that doesn't make it through the slot I can pretty much kiss goodbye. I used to have things delivered to my mom's place until she died.

Of the twelve people that specifically said they sent either a holiday card or package? I got two cards and one package.

Cops have zero interest in even coming out to get a report. I was encouraged to drive by the station and told I should just get a POBox.

First, they're expensive. Second, things like social security disability, social services, some doctors and banks, and utilities won't take a PO box.

I hate mail thieves. Seriously. Such a pain in the ass.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


Sometimes I think about quitting Facebook but one major utility is the ability to find people that had their package mis delivered to my house. This happened yesterday.
posted by k8t at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2017


The solution I have found to package theft is to order things that are shipped via SmartPost. They can’t be stolen if they’re never delivered! Seriously, I ordered some Christmas gifts from RainWorks on December 2. According to the tracking info they are on their third trip across the country and have missed the third delivery date of yesterday. The Rainworks folks were cool about it and shipped a replacement to the relatives I am visiting now. But that is typical of my experience with SmartPost.

As for boobytrapped packages, package theft would be a great solution for a longrange urine release device, or LURD. Package theft isn’t a problem for me so I am still looking for an opportunity to make one, but maybe someone else can use it.
posted by TedW at 4:04 PM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I am honestly starting to wonder what the police are actually good for.

I am on record here and elsewhere as having a similar degree of skepticism but at the moment I have a degree of warm fuzzies toward them: right now I have a worsening cold and on my way home from a day of board games I stopped for some cough suppressant. Somewhere between the cashier and my front door I lost my wallet.

There was a thorough search of all the pockets in trousers and coat, the bag I brought home, and the route I had taken from where my friend had dropped me off; said friend searched the floor of his car and returned to the parking lot of the drugstore. We also both spoke with the manager (me by phone, him in person) and no joy anywhere.

After all this, I had come to the annoying conclusion it was indeed gone, and I had just cancelled the first of my credit cards when my wife answered the door and found a police officer bearing my wallet with everything (cash included) still intact. This was maybe an hour after I lost it. Someone had picked it up in the pharmacy parking lot and flagged down his passing police cruiser, and he had looked through the wallet until he found some ID

A Festivus miracle! Maybe it is because I live in a relatively peaceful city of 200,000 or so that saw its most recent murder 26 years ago, but the police here are decently helpful. Indeed, I had called into the local police division to report the wallet lost and while he had apparently known this and called dispatch, he said there was a delay in locating me because I have no driver’s license and had had no interactions with the police here, so they had no record of my address. I offered to go out and run across the street so he could cite me for jaywalking, but he declined.

So yes, cops in many places and to many people are abusive, but I am feeling a bit peace on earth and goodwill towards men today.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:12 PM on December 27, 2017 [12 favorites]


When my mom was a kid, she got revenge on someone by feeding them a goat-shit sandwich. [emphasis mine]

🤔
posted by carmicha at 4:54 PM on December 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


Brand their forehead with "Package Thief", or send them to Australia!

While I'm somewhat sympathetic to the former, please, please don't do the latter - we don't even have Fedex or UPS here, so are at the mercy of Australia Post, who are spectacularly useless at parcel delivery. Amazon has just started here, so we're hoping that they either give AusPost a kick up the backside or start their own delivery company, since decent delivery is a non-negotiable for their business model.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 5:05 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't get your hopes up about Amazon Australia. Amazing overnight delivery and then left the box on the street in front of my unit complex. Didn't even bother to call or ring the bell to let me know it was there. Luckily a neighbour saw it and moved it into the secure area and let me know.
At least the postie doesn't leave the parcel - mind you they don't bother to leave a card either. I just have to hope that I get email or text updates or that the person tells me they've sent me something.
posted by poxandplague at 5:27 PM on December 27, 2017


I do feel it’s the carrier’s responsibility to get the package to the recipient. In the case of stealing regular USPS mail, the post office takes that seriously and you could possibly get a postal inspector on the problem. With UPS and FedEx, drivers are under extreme time pressure and cut corners (I’m sure the same is true for Amazon Logistics contractors). But UPS automatically insures packages they send, so they should have an incentive to avoid paying out those claims. Perhaps their deal with Amazon omits that insurance—I wouldn’t be surprised. The delivery companies need to have an incentive for their drivers to be good, not just fast.

I’m also surprised that UPS hasn’t done something to combat package thieves: they could deliver bait boxes with GPS transponders, they could have rear-facing cameras on their trucks, they could have follow cars video package thieves. Of course, this assumes the police would do anything with that evidence, but perhaps an extensive program run by a big company would get more official cooperation.
posted by adamrice at 5:31 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Hey, 80 Cats in a Dog Suit, I'm sorry. But if it helps, I do know for a fact that Social Security, the IRS, and all of my utilities but YMMV, will accept a Private Mail Box mailing address. I've had one for over 20 years.

A PMB might be a bit more expensive than a PO box, but UPS and FedEx deliver to them with no hassle. There's always someone to sign for packages, they'll hold them for at least a few days, and I've never had one stolen.

I also like being able to have a mailing address seperate from my home address. I'm way too easy to Google. Not that anyone is out to get me, but I'm more comfortable.

And no, the UPS Store won't accept delivery for a package if you don't rent a box at that location. Heck, two local locations owned by the same franchisee can't even transport something between the two locations even if you rent boxes at both.
posted by monopas at 5:54 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Fedex does exist in Australia.

You know who really sucks with delivery though? The US Embassy in Australia. Their online system tells you to put all your address information in one line, but in small print - which means that if you reflexively put the apartment # in the next line, your package - WITH YOUR PASSPORT IN IT - is going to end up at some depot somewhere. WHY.
posted by divabat at 6:10 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I’m also surprised that UPS hasn’t done something to combat package thieves

UPS doesn't care, they make it very clear that their responsibility ends the second the package leaves their hands.

For example, a few months ago I returned a flatpack cabinet to Amazon because it arrived badly damaged. Or at least, I tried to return it. Amazon issued a return label and sent UPS to pick up the cabinet. For reasons completely opaque to this day, the UPS driver took an open, unlabeled box of empty canning jars from my carport instead of the sealed and labeled cabinet. Somehow, the driver did not notice the differences in dimensions and weight between 6 empty quart jars and a 50# piece of furniture. I spent the next two weeks talking with with one useless UPS CSR after another trying to intercept the package and get them to come back and pick up the right one. Tracking shows the box of jars were delivered to Amazon's Returns in Kentucky and UPS tells me, "It's in their hands now, we are just shippers," never mind it wasn't Amazon that snatched a random box from my yard and trucked it cross country.
posted by jamaro at 6:22 PM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Police in Cambridge, MA have been putting out bait packages with embedded GPS units.
posted by adamg at 7:10 PM on December 27, 2017 [7 favorites]



Of course, you don't have to be Che fucking Guevara to notice that the same types of urban-adjacent-suburbs willing to roll out a tactical team for larceny are also the same sort of places where you can literally get away with murder, if the murder weapon is an Audi Q7. But nobody's gonna fuck with your Amazon packages, so there's that.


Speaking of which, I notice stories about Christmas time package theft concentrate on thefts from homes that are on suburban arterials. Just maybe those weren't a smart idea.
posted by ocschwar at 7:17 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/12/19/this-angry-inventor-has-a-special-gift-for-package-thieves-revenge

So, The Blank Box... you buy it online? And have it delivered to your house?
posted by gurple at 8:19 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well if he's any salesman at all, his pitch will be that you have to buy one before you know you need one!

Of course, this assumes the police would do anything with that evidence, but perhaps an extensive program run by a big company would get more official cooperation.

I'd imagine if the companies were really motivated, they could hire off-duty police to do it. In NYC, you can hire your own uniformed NYPD officer for $45/hour (4 hour minimum). Not sure what the rates are like in other places, but it is an awfully straightforward way to get police attention.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:36 PM on December 27, 2017


I have used Amazon lockers several times with great success. Not, however, during the holidays. That would just be crazy.
posted by lhauser at 10:08 PM on December 27, 2017


If you have a post office box in a post office that supports it, you can supposedly sign up for street addressing for PO box and receive packages from not-USPS package delivery companies (e.g. UPS and FedEx) as long as you put the ship-to address as the street address for your box.

Yes, I did this, but UPS still refused to deliver - they said that address was a post office so they couldn't.
posted by Rash at 10:20 PM on December 27, 2017


One of the nicest things about a steep driveway is that casual walk-by package thieves just don't bother. It's just...too...steep. On the other hand, it means that our postal worker keeps trying to cram implausibly huge parcels into the mailbox at the bottom of the driveway so he won't have to make the long climb up.
posted by potrzebie at 10:38 PM on December 27, 2017


I've had packages stolen from inside my apartment entrance, inside a locked entrance. I can't figure out if it's people who get in the building but it seems a little frequent for that, so my theory is that its rascally teenagers in my building (most everyone else is a rich twentysomething) But I had a sex toy package stolen and I can only imagine the laughter that erupted on opening it when they thought they were probably getting electronics or jewelry. I laughed but man I was pissed. I was convinced it was a neighbor. It took everything in me to abstain from posting a sign where the packages are usually left:

ALL RIGHT WHICH ONE OF YOU STOLE MY BUTTPLUGS?
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 11:39 PM on December 27, 2017 [10 favorites]



We know that Amazon Locker "Futility" is popular and in the past, you might have had difficulty getting your Amazon parcels delivered here.

We listen to our customers in order to constantly improve our Amazon Lockers and that’s why we’ve recently installed a new Amazon Locker nearby, "False Hope"

posted by BinaryApe at 12:53 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Here in France there are professional package-keeping networks – they get paid, and pay their franchisees to hold packages. Franchisees are usually stores, and as in Germany it's pretty common for la superette du coin ("the corner store") to do that. It's very practical for finding places that are closer than the post office and that stay open later in the evenings or on weekends. Really surprised that doesn't seem to exist in the States. You can find them even in the countryside here, and France is more like the States than Germany population-wise. Outside the three largest cities (Paris/Marseille/Lyon), the rest of the country is pretty empty, and it's about the size of Texas.

I wonder what the hell they think when they open a nice looking box and it's full of pretty, shiny, green (but utterly useless if you're not a fiber artist) fluff.

I once had two kilos of dirty sheep fur mailed to me from England. Huge box, looked very tempting I'm sure.

Only ever lost one box in twenty years, books I mailed to myself when I lived between Nice and Paris a few years ago. Everything is sent with tracking and the accompanying reimbursement requirements now, even the least expensive packages. Mine had been marked as "delivered" when it wasn't – the post office investigated, no signature had been made, they spent a month looking for it and then sent me a check.
posted by fraula at 6:59 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I guess it would be against Freedom or something is why we do not have a reasonable system like that.
posted by thelonius at 7:22 AM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


I am totally against the idea that cops should do random mugshot searches or increased policing for low level thieves.

The thing is - I get the position that low level thieving shouldn't be treated as criminal. I disagree, but I get it. But in that case, the laws should be taken off the books. We shouldn't have police who claim they exist to enforce the laws, but who randomly choose which laws are important enough for them to pay attention to based on nothing but how they feel about it in their hearts.
posted by corb at 7:25 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


It does seem like a totally American conversation, a debate about "should the cops enforce property law or should the companies who pay outside contractors to deliver packages be responsible?" Perhaps we can involve the Second Amendment somehow.
posted by Nelson at 7:27 AM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


but who randomly choose which laws are important enough for them to pay attention to based on nothing but how they feel about it in their hearts.

Where I live, the cops do nothing about theft but will park in a yellow curb zone to get out and cite someone for parking in a yellow curb zone, so...
posted by xedrik at 7:38 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


amazon lockers are basically the corporatization of the neighborhood grocer you used to get all of your stuff sent to. most of the ones springing up in my city are either next to colleges or in Whole Foods meaning Amazon believes that people like me who buy $3 HDMI cables will now want to shop at Whole Foods lol
posted by runt at 7:48 AM on December 28, 2017


So, The Blank Box... you buy it online? And have it delivered to your house?

Somebody's house, anyway.
posted by scalefree at 7:56 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


We shouldn't have police who claim they exist to enforce the laws, but who randomly choose which laws are important enough for them to pay attention to based on nothing but how they feel about it in their hearts.

I have bad news for you about cops and laws.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:57 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, I was OK with cities telling their police that pot arrests were their lowest priority.
posted by thelonius at 8:01 AM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Have had decent luck with Amazon Lockers, though not all packages will fit in whatever's available. Only one I've used is in a high traffic area.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:49 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I worked at a Mailboxes Etc, which became the UPS store. We did offer package-receiving service for a buck or two. But those stores are franchises, and different stores may offer different services. And that may have changed since becoming UPS stores.
posted by adamrice at 12:09 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Do non-US Mail delivery services deliver to PO boxes now? Back in the day when my family had a PO box, UPS and FedEx wouldn't deliver to a PO box. Has that changed?

Some post offices will let you use their street address so you can received Fedex or UPS at your box - not every post office will have this service though - only the larger ones with "premium" services - you'll have to fill out another form, show ID again, then they'll give you the exact address to use - it'll be something like

Your name
Post office Street address, your box number
City, State Zip code (likely to be different from your existing box zip)

But once the paperwork is all done, your fedex/ups stuff can go to your box.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 1:01 PM on December 28, 2017


One explanation for the rise in property theft in San Francisco: the voters
posted by blob at 5:18 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


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