90,000 Packages Are Stolen in N.Y.C. Every Day. How One Building Fought
February 22, 2021 10:19 AM   Subscribe

For neighbors in the author’s East Village walk-up, “Have you had anything stolen?” turned out to be a great conversation starter. But matters came to an emotional head just before Thanksgiving, when I found Coco Ross, 23, crying on our stoop one afternoon. When I asked what had been stolen, she said softly, “A Rolex.” A Rolex? What was she thinking? Then I got the full story. Her father, in Boston, had lost his job and sent her the watch to get a better price in New York, as much as $25,000, she said. A delivery person dumped the family heirloom in our lobby, not waiting to get Coco’s signature. Footage of the thief was murky. The watch was never found.
posted by folklore724 (134 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Honestly, part of the problem with package theft in this city comes from the piss-poor service New York has from Amazon's "Lasership" delivery service. I live in a brownstone building, the kind where the "Front door" is at the top of a stoop, and there's also some stairs leading down to a door to the basement. In my building, the basement is reserved for storage for the super, and it is also an overspill trash dump. And it is OBVIOUS this is what it is - there is no bell or buzzer at this door, and often literal bags of trash are piled up in front of this basement door.

And yet, for TWO SOLID YEARS any Amazon shipment to my building got left down in front of that door, mixed in with the trash. Lasership kept bringing them there and reporting that they'd left our packages at "the side door to your building". Sometimes the super would see them when he was bagging the trash once a week and rescue them for us. Sometimes we'd call Amazon when our packages went "missing" and get told we should check there. And sometimes, someone would take advantage of the "hey packages sitting out in the open" opportunity and just take stuff - two years ago a series of books I ordered for my nephew ended up stolen out of the box, with one lone book left behind and ruined by getting rained on. Amazon would replace things right away, but easily about five packages I'd ordered went missing because they'd been brought to the "side door" and someone helped themselves.

I had to put flags on my Amazon account in at least twelve different places that instructed people "use the damn FRONT DOOR, not the GARBAGE CHUTE".

And the UPS guy who just left things on people's stoops once and the USPS carriers who bring things to the wrong buildings on my street and the recipients just help themselves is its own problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on February 22 [10 favorites]


Instant karma
posted by mokey at 10:54 AM on February 22 [11 favorites]


I feel very lucky that I live in a US suburb where packages have sat on doorsteps for days with no ill effects. On the downside, there's no foot traffic and people are a little isolated from any real community. For communal buildings it seems like you'd *have* to have stuff signed for or delivered to a secure mailroom or other place where you can pick it up at leisure. What a hassle.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:56 AM on February 22


I live on a literal farm so this is just mind-boggling. I'm trying to work out, if 90,000 packages are stolen every day, does the package stealing industry have the GDP of a small country? If the police could magically arrest every package thief all at once, would it cause a recession? Is there a business opportunity for a delivery company to actually deliver things?
posted by allegedly at 11:01 AM on February 22 [22 favorites]


How my city fights back against porch pirates*: She put cat litter in an Amazon package, and a porch pirate stole it 40 minutes later. [With photo]

*No idea whether it worked or not (I doubt it).
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:08 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


About 8 million people, so that 90,000 daily means about one package theft per 100 people, which is high but not insane. (I have no idea how many packages are delivered daily, but this is all packages, not just Amazon, so it wouldn't shock me if it was more than 1 per person.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:11 AM on February 22


I once had a package get stolen that was a John Coltrane boxed set. I was mad, but I was offended when about a week later the box showed up open on my step.
posted by winna at 11:19 AM on February 22 [91 favorites]


For a minute there, I read the question as, "have you ever stolen anything?", and I imagine that might be a conversation-starter as well.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:23 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I'm in the valley in LA and I use a Ring doorbell. I turned on the "neighborhood" alerts one time recently when there was some big police activity nearby, because i wanted to know what was happening, and since then I get at least 4-5 stolen package video alerts every day - all within a few blocks. And that's just the people who bother posting. I keep meaning to turn this off (it's been... almost 2 years. I'm lazy about changing notifications). But, yeah, it's basically a terrible idea to allow a package to sit out front for more than 10 minutes. I've only had a few packages stolen from my place, and luckily nothing important (I hope the last thief enjoys their $25 Friday The 13th blu ray box set), so now I usually run out and grab them right away.

(In LA Ring alerts are either 1) stolen packages or 2) "what was that loud bang!??" "FIREWORKS- GO BACK TO SLEEP" x400023121 )
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:24 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Count my in the mind-boggled category. That's well over 30m packages a year in one city. Doing some googling the stats were all over the place but I saw figures as high as 1.7m packages a day stolen in the US / 600m packages a year (or about 2-3 packages per adult per year stolen in the US). I knew porch pirates were a problem but had no idea it was that bad.

I was going through my Amazon order history the other day (you can pull your entire order history down as a CSV file from the "your account" screen). Sorting it by carrier tracking number I've had a little short of 2000 individual packages in the past 9 or so years. And that's not counting non-Amazon eCommerce orders. To the best of my recollection I've never lost a package, and that includes delivery to various city address in San Francisco, various suburban addresses in the wider Bay Area, and now Utah. The closest I've ever had was a box going to the neighbor's house in front of ours and having to go rescue it back....and because they weren't home feeling like I looked sketchy as hell taking my package back from their doorway.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 11:24 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Package delivery has become a joke. UPS now monitors their drivers constantly, they know how long a driver has been stopped to make a delivery, for example. So drivers have been known to just leave a sticker on the door and not even attempt to deliver the package, as that takes less time. Meanwhile, if you try to use tracking to figure out when you should be home, both UPS and Fedex post delivery days and times that are entirely make-believe and get updated maybe within minutes of when they state the last time for delivery will be. 9:00 PM as last time for delivery... 9:01 PM you get a new time and day. So it's next to impossible to plan to be home. Even when tracking says the package is on a truck for delivery it doesn't arrive. Requires signature? It still gets left with no signature. It's all really half-ass and there's no one to complain to. I have become totally neurotic about packages and will avoid ordering things that have to be shipped as much as possible.
posted by njohnson23 at 11:24 AM on February 22 [35 favorites]


I've had so many fights with UPS and FedEx over this for...more than 20 years? I explain that leaving a package on my stoop is effectively just leaving it in the middle of a city sidewalk, and they act like this is some sort of extraordinary situation that they can't possibly accommodate. I live in Philadelphia; the majority of housing stock is rowhouses! Despite the enormous number of humans living in major cities in the United States, I cannot get these services to acknowledge any familiarity with any kind of home other than a suburban house with a driveway and a porch and low foot traffic.
posted by desuetude at 11:25 AM on February 22 [19 favorites]


Maybe this has already been posted on the blue. It seems like an awful lot of work to make a youtube video, but if you're into a particular brand of schadenfreude, this might be up your alley.
posted by nushustu at 11:31 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


For a minute there, I read the question as, "have you ever stolen anything?", and I imagine that might be a conversation-starter as well.

Along with, "Do we strike you?" "What's your favourite meat?" and "Would you like to be able to fly?"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:33 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


But, yeah, it's basically a terrible idea to allow a package to sit out front for more than 10 minutes.

Which means that 95% of New Yorkers, most of whom work in completely different neighborhoods than the ones they live in, are screwed because half the time they don't even know if they have a package until they get home from work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on February 22 [10 favorites]


... at which point they don't.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:35 AM on February 22 [26 favorites]


I am in the NY area. Amazon uses the USPS for the last mile around here. I have had too many packages gone missing. I now use a nearby Amazon locker. This is UPS I think, but regardless, never lost a package yet. Really easy to pickup. Highly recommend if this is an option near you. Also use informed delivery which in my mind adds some small accountability to the USPS and the mail delivery person. Real small.
posted by AugustWest at 11:36 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Over the past year I've been baffled in the opposite direction, coming from Philly (with the same constant Ring package-thief notifications bc yeah also lazy about turning them off) to a small college town, in a quiet neighborhood. I think within my first couple weeks of being on NextDoor here, I saw a message denouncing porch pirates, city council, police department, social services etc with the kind of ferocity that I would have reserved for someone who got their Rolex stolen. But nope, just a normal Amazon package that Amazon immediately replaced.
posted by supercres at 11:39 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


So I follow Cabel Sasser out in Portland and he had a similar problem. Stuff being stolen out of the office lobby with no trace of shenanigans at all.

Turns out the office uses a Doorking access system, the master key to the box is freely available on Amazon for $16.99. Get inside that box and short the mailman access switch and you're in, no other tools necessary.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:39 AM on February 22 [15 favorites]


Which means that 95% of New Yorkers, most of whom work in completely different neighborhoods than the ones they live in, are screwed because half the time they don't even know if they have a package until they get home from work.

Yeah. This is making me recall now that when I lived in NYC (2000's) I almost never had important packages shipped to my apartment building - I had them shipped to an office I worked out of sometimes. Completely forgot about that.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:41 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


desuetude, in my neighborhood of Philly every other door has a large handlettered sign on its front door saying, "PLEASE DON'T LEAVE PACKAGES ON STEP" or instructions to throw packages over the back step. USPS is probably the worst for saying they've delivered something or knocked on the door when they haven't; I love my mail carrier, though, who is a different person from the package delivery person.

I rent a mailbox from a Self Service Storage near me. My spouse is stubborn about having things sent directly to our house. But because we have an odd front stoop (instead of coming straight up it comes sideways and has a wall, so the top step is sheltered), my husband's packages don't usually get stolen.
posted by Peach at 11:43 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]



I once had a package get stolen that was a John Coltrane boxed set. I was mad, but I was offended when about a week later the box showed up open on my step.


Maybe they ripped MP3s / made copies.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:52 AM on February 22 [8 favorites]


I now use a nearby Amazon locker. This is UPS I think, but regardless, never lost a package yet. Really easy to pickup. Highly recommend if this is an option near you.

I checked on this, out of curiosity - the nearest Amazon locker location to anywhere in Northern Brooklyn appears to be at a customer service desk at a Whole Foods in MANHATTAN.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


A small positive anecdote on this topic: my pandemic coping mechanism was, at first, to order a lot of records, which all come in similar square cardboard boxes. With bandcamp fridays last year and delays in record pressing, I would order stuff and it would randomly show up months later. In November I got two or three records in the mail one day, in separate packages, and I quickly glanced at the return addresses to see who shipped them (and figure out what records they might be) before cleaning them and opening. One of them was from the very small British record label I've put some music out with. Figured they were sending me something to check out, as they've done before. I took the boxes in, sliced them open, slid out the records - the one in the box from the label I work with was a record I already have, by a friend. I thought - maybe they didn't realize! But then I looked at the shipping label. It was not addressed to me - it was addressed to someone else who lived... a few miles away. Similar part of LA but not like, right next door or anything. A five minute drive. Then I realized it was postmarked... from July. I got in touch with the correct recipient (via the label - I didn't want him surprise him by showing up at his door in the middle of the pandemic with opened mail) and let him know I was dropping it off, and we had a friendly email exchange about it. The odds of that record being delivered to me, one of the dozen or so folks who have worked with that particular label.... after so many months being lost in the mail... still baffle and surprise me - but I'm very happy the dude got his record and all was eventually well!

(Anecdotally, I've heard that with all the USPS Dejoy BS there were a lot of 'misplaced packages and mail' over the summer, that may have turned up in the sweeps that were ordered in november after the election (I have no real insight here, just gossip). And this was prior to the holiday shippingpocalypse over the winter. )
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:55 AM on February 22 [15 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: That's really weird. Here in Chicago, there's at least three Whole Foods with lockers that I know of within a few miles from me.

I'm on the North Side (West Edgewater) and we don't generally have issues with stuff getting stolen. Though one of my neighbors is usually home to let them in the entryway. Still, there's been plenty of cases of packages sat and sound outside the door. And it's not some quiet suburban gated community.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:57 AM on February 22


I checked on this, out of curiosity - the nearest Amazon locker location to anywhere in Northern Brooklyn appears to be at a customer service desk at a Whole Foods in MANHATTAN.

Not sure where you are in Brooklyn, but I think the WF on 4th street (I think it is) has a locker.

Also returning packages to Amazon, I go to either WF or there is a Kohl's that takes Amazon returns.
posted by AugustWest at 12:03 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Also, fwiw, I think it is UPS and the driver arrives on the route at approximately the same time every day. I can consistently expect delivery between 11am and noon. If you do not have a car or have a large package, it sort of is counter productive to the whole get it delivered to your home, but here in Westchester, it is less than a 2 minute drive from my house and I get them 100% of the time. Also, when there is a line at WF, I can go in to get my package and then conveniently stay in to grab some produce or whatnot.
posted by AugustWest at 12:07 PM on February 22


Canada Post has been good about not dropping off stuff if no-one answers the door and they don't do that thing where they don't even bother to deliver and just give the pick-up slip either - UPS has been consistently bad about doing that and the pickup place is FAR so I've come to avoid them if at all possible. The Amazon sub-contractors always ring and then leave the package in the mail box or in front of the door without waiting for anyone to answer the door. I've been lucky so far that nothing's been stolen but I'm always nervous until I know that someone opened the door and got it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:09 PM on February 22


I mean, for returning packages I can just go up the block to the pack-and-ship place. The problem is usually getting them to get the package to me.

(Fortunately all my Amazon packages as of late have been via USPS, and they aren't using Lasership on my deliveries any more - I think the last time I threatened to cancel my prime membership if they didn't note that this was my preference did the trick.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:12 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I love getting packages that are bigger than my apartment mailbox marked as 'delivered in mailbox'. I'd say 5% of the time they're missing. Did they ever get here to begin with? Doubtful.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 12:16 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


This feels like a mob thing. Or organized something, it isn’t easy to flip things.
posted by geoff. at 12:17 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Since the pandemic started, Canada Post and every other delivery service has just dropped stuff on my doorstep after ringing the bell, not even waiting for someone to answer. They only leave a slip if there are import duties that have to be paid.

Fortunately, I have a front porch and a relatively deep front yard, so packages aren't that obvious from the street. It is rare for things to get stolen from houses during the day in our neighbourhood, but forget it if you leave something out at night. Your car is guaranteed to be ransacked if you forget to lock it, and people are even having things taken from their backyards.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:18 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Canada post just leaves stuff on my stoop and rings. I've occasionally been out, but never had a problem.

The one that Will Not just leave my items if I don't answer is the bike courier who delivers my coffee beans. Still unsure why. Multiple different couriers, same thing.
posted by jeather at 12:26 PM on February 22


At least they ring your bell. I’m in New York and the last I’ve had three packages “delivered” by laser ship and stolen within a short time. The last one was marked “handed to resident” but I live alone. Anything worth more or important I try to have shipped another service and held.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 12:28 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I've had Amazon leave a package in a "secure location on your property" and the photo was the package out in the fucking rain in the middle of my neighbors muddy driveway (which he refuses to gravel).

The fact that "delivered to the wrong address" doesn't immediately spring them into action to replace the item, instead forcing me to risk bodily injury going onto my insane, gun-toting neighbors property to retrieve my own property that was delivered seems kinda suspect to me.

Like, there's literally a button to click "delivered to wrong address" but it doesn't fucking do anything.

I would think when they send you a photo of a package that is OBVIOUSLY NOT at your address, you'd have some recourse other than trying to figure out where the fuck the package is yourself.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:31 PM on February 22 [11 favorites]


Lately I find all of my packages just get stuck at the mail facility somewhere, with "Label approved" but no shipping actually happening at any time. There's eleventy five feet of snow on the ground so I just figure they all gave up.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:36 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Lasership is who delivers my Fresh.ly meals and....for awhile....they'd take 4 days to get to me.....unsafe to eat. They must have gotten told to figure it out because after pausing for a bit...deliveries are better.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 12:36 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I think that if you're mailing something like the $25,000 Rolex in the article, you should probably send it USPS Registered Mail. Someone has to sign for it at every step of its journey (or at least that's how it worked when I was there), and insurance covers up to $50K. Someone correct me if I'm wrong!
posted by jabah at 12:39 PM on February 22 [25 favorites]


Not a huge problem out where I usually live, but recently did have a package, presumably, dropped off at a different house? Never saw it but got dropoff notice, was home and by door whole time. Got them to send me another, but then my old package showed up day later with a big hole in it? Guess whoever got it first time took a peek to see if they wanted my PSU or not.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:39 PM on February 22


I feel extremely lucky that I have had the same roommates for nearly 7 years, and that there have been nearly 0 lost or stolen packages. BUT still, a thing I miss about pre-pandemic life is being able to have things delivered to an office where I would be during the day.

A thing I do not miss about shitty pink collar/service jobs is being forbidden from having things delivered to the office where I was the person checking in the mail so it wassn't even like I was making extra work for anyone else.
posted by bilabial at 12:41 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


in my neighborhood of Philly every other door has a large handlettered sign on its front door saying, "PLEASE DON'T LEAVE PACKAGES ON STEP" or instructions to throw packages over the back step. USPS is probably the worst for saying they've delivered something or knocked on the door when they haven't; I love my mail carrier, though, who is a different person from the package delivery person.

We have a few signs on doors with alternate delivery instructions, but most people's backyards/protected property nooks are not accessible from the street in any way. (I'm in South Philly.) The USPS carriers for my block are actually really good about knocking AND about scanning packages while at each person's actual door. Our UPS person is just okay. He does always knock. But gods forbid you're not there -- you'll just find a post-it with a weird scrawl that fell onto the sidewalk.

The FedEx carriers are THE WORST WORST WORST. They drop and run at random times with zero notification. A couple of weeks ago they quietly left a computer on my step in a clearly-marked box. Amazon is hit-or-miss, though we rarely use them. From the sounds of things, they knock, drop, and run.
posted by desuetude at 12:41 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


In much the same way as people are surprised I've managed to live in my neighborhood for half a decade without being shot or shot at, it's expected to be a hotbed of package theft, yet nothing gets stolen even when I forget about it until three in the morning.

My biggest package problems have always been shipping snafus that involve the carrier losing shit or the time UPS decided to deliver my package to a pickup place several miles away for whatever idiotic reason or the period of time I lived in a house that wasn't on FedEx's map so any time i got a FedEx package I'd have to go meet the driver at the convenience store half a mile away. Guess I've been pretty lucky on that count.

It was kinda odd back when all my UPS packages would come at like 8PM way back when the deliveries were never made that late, but once I figured out that the driver was bringing them in his personal car on the way home from work it was fine since I knew when to expect him.
posted by wierdo at 12:42 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


There’s nothing like opening your front door to see someone shoving a box under his shirt before scuttling away like a gremlin. I stood there, shocked, and then my phone alerted me that my masks had been delivered. I needed those so I could go to work!
posted by betweenthebars at 12:48 PM on February 22 [13 favorites]


I almost never have things shipped to our apartment in north Seattle. We're fortunate enough to have a couple Amazon locker locations nearby, and I have expensive non amazon stuff shipped to work. If work ever decides to nix that I'll be getting a box at the local sip and ship.
posted by calamari kid at 12:49 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Is it a really a mob thing, or is it a consequence of being a highly unequal city and lack of progressive social structures? AOC has literally explained the rise of shoplifting, and petty theft in general, in 2020 in terms of New Yorkers being economically desperate. Of course the right would've taken her words as justification for crime, not explanation. She's also talked about wage theft, which is obviously in contrast to media attention given to material theft such as these things.
posted by polymodus at 12:53 PM on February 22 [10 favorites]


I almost never had important packages shipped to my apartment building - I had them shipped to an office I worked out of sometimes.

This is better than getting them stolen, but if you ride public transit to work, it can be a real hassle to get anything other than small packages home from the office. And I actually experienced an employer a few years ago who ended up banning personal shipments to the office because they were supposedly outnumbering business-related mail.

Similarly, the solution of having them not leave packages if no one answers the door is not great if you work all day and no one is home.
posted by primethyme at 12:57 PM on February 22 [10 favorites]


I think that if you're mailing something like the $25,000 Rolex in the article, you should probably send it USPS Registered Mail.

Another casualty of the "USPS is bloated/incompetent/lazy" right wing meme, I'd wager; if you're paying 10x as much for shareholder-backed UPS/FedEx, it MUST be better, right?! Can't be that they have more of a motivation to cut corners or anything.
posted by supercres at 12:59 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


geoff.: ...it isn’t easy to flip things.

I dunno, local FB sales groups are FULL of new and new-ish stuff for sale. Cash is king, and no one ever asks about the provenance. I mean, if you never received the item, you don't have a serial number to check for, right?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:00 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


Close to 60% of all Amazon sales are by third parties, not directly from Amazon. When your package gets stolen and is then replaced, that's not Amazon doing a nice favor for you. They force the third-party merchant to give you a replacement for free.
posted by The Half Language Plant at 1:05 PM on February 22 [10 favorites]


it isn’t easy to flip things

They're keeping them or throwing them out, I would guess. That's the insidious thing here. These people have no idea what they're stealing.
posted by dobbs at 1:12 PM on February 22 [6 favorites]


This is better than getting them stolen, but if you ride public transit to work, it can be a real hassle to get anything other than small packages home from the office. And I actually experienced an employer a few years ago who ended up banning personal shipments to the office because they were supposedly outnumbering business-related mail.

I was lucky in my case that it was fine to ship to the office... but... I commuted via bike so I definitely had some very, very, very inadvisably bulky slow crawl one handed rides home.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 1:19 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


A friend's condo building in downtown Toronto has people roaming the corridors picking up anything left out. The super's had to start working as a corridor patrol. Curiously, the stuff deemed non-interesting is often found in the stairwell a few days later, having been brought back by the thieves on their next go-round.
posted by scruss at 1:21 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I have a lot of sympathy for the USPS and other delivery workers in my life in the past few years. Most of them should be retired, not dealing with the incredible increase in volume and labor caused by the rise of ecommerce and home delivery for almost anything and everything.

Most of these delivery workers are getting squeezed by algorithm-driven commerce and tracking metrics from multiple angles and otherwise unrealistic or inhumane workloads, and it shouldn't necessarily be all on them to take the brunt of the responsibility for package theft.

Sure, there's plenty of people who don't give a fuck and will leave your package in the rain in your flowerbed working as delivery workers but that's true of almost any job.

The delivery companies themselves are responsible for creating these brutal work environments and struggling to retain quality workers who give a fuck about their job.

And the brunt of the responsibility should be on the package thieves themselves.

I'm as sympathetic as it comes to the plight of late stage capitalism and poverty but fuck package thieves. Almost every sting operation I've seen on package thieves seems to show someone with enough to eat and a home to take the package to to open it, or otherwise has expensive looking trendy clothes or something and it's just infuriatingly trashy opportunistic crime and such a nuisance slap in the face to common human decency.

People have essential needs like medication or food in those packages and it's just such a depressingly trashy, garbage thing to do to someone to play package scratch off lottery ticket with someone's personal life, time and money.
posted by loquacious at 1:22 PM on February 22 [34 favorites]




A funny: https://www.gocomics.com/fminus/2021/02/17

This is...maybe an actual (joke) solution to a real problem in LA where (unlike NYC, not sure about other places) they will not take anything more than what fits in a small recycle bin. So i have stacks and stacks of cardboard from all the excess pandemic deliveries over the year. Not useful moving size boxes either that people might want - tiny amazon boxes that add up to a room full of cardboard.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 1:31 PM on February 22


if you're paying 10x as much for shareholder-backed UPS/FedEx, it MUST be better, right?!

I've had a few (non Amazon) orders that shipped UPS that used USPS for the last mile, and they'd ask me to pay extra to keep it in UPS's hands. They started this (coincidentally? ) when I moved from a high rise to a neighborhood that tended to have a number of reported stolen packages.

It felt like they were asking for more money to do their job, so I always refused out of principal. It wound up always working out, except for the time they gave USPS an empty bag. USPS immediately returned it to UPS as undeliverable, who promptly pretended USPS was still going to deliver it. Because UPS didn't officially acknowledge the returned item for an additional two weeks (after they acknowledged the problem on the phone), it took the retailer forever to re-send me the item.

My UPS guy was always nice (made a delivery during the Polar Vortex), but I really don't like dealing with the company.
posted by ghost phoneme at 1:33 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I live in a ten-unit building converted into apartments with a call box next to the front door, yet every once in a while I'll be in the hallway and hear a delivery person knocking at the front door before leaving a box on the sidewalk and scooting away. Usually FedEx is the culprit.

Who knocks on an apartment building door? What are you hoping to achieve besides letting the porch pirates, who follow the trucks around, have a nice clear window of opportunity?
posted by Grim Fridge at 1:41 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Stories like this make me realize how lucky I am sometimes--I'm on a corner in a residential city neighborhood, and as worried as I get about stuff being stolen, nothing's gone missing yet, I think because my front porch is so visible from every house and many people are like me and home during the day in the Before Times. I can remember when the UPS guy regularly came around to the back, as well, and left things on the back porch if he felt like it might get stolen. That sure doesn't happen anymore. But for me, it's not the stuff that's arrived, it seems to happen before it gets here.

In the early days of the stay at home order, I got some stuff from Lush, much of which was gifts for the person who brought me groceries when I thought I had COVID or my cousinlette who was graduating college. They ship from Vancouver, BC, via FedEx, and I spent weeks tracking this thing, calling every day after a couple weeks had gone by and there was no sign of it moving past the Seattle depot. It kept saying "out for delivery." Every day they lied to me and told me it was on the way. I finally, after asking for days, got the calls escalated, and they still told me the same bullshit that it had been received and would be on the way. When I demanded he look into it, they told me they'd have an agent find out what the status is and call me. Nothing for days. Called again, escalated immediately, got some hapless moron who still kept trying to insist they were sending it, and finally admitted, when he bothered to look, that they had an empty box sitting in the Memphis center.

I wanted to know how the box was empty, and he said the sender sent it that way. Normally, I try to be as nice as possible to customer service people, but I lost my shit--that they'd not only stolen contents that couldn't be replaced (Lush had stopped making some of the items) but that they were gifts, and that they'd continually lied to me about the status and the fact that they were trying to cover up that someone at FedEx had stolen the merchandise. Fortunately the Lush people were fantastic, and they told me it's not the first time someone's bath bombs have gone missing, but that they'd never had an entire box get stolen at FedEx. She said they usually leave stuff inside for plausible deniability. And there was no mechanism for me to file a complaint, I had to go to Lush and have them do it.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:43 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


I've only had a few packages stolen, despite living in central LA, so I guess I've been fairly lucky. Until the pandemic I was able to get deliveries sent to work which was nice and didn't have to worry about theft, but that doesn't help when I'm WFH and the office is closed.

The only ones I remember were lysine powder for kittens and a replacement door handle, so uh... enjoy that, thieves.

[While Amazon has many negatives, it does at least remove the sting of package theft as every time they have simply sent me a replacement with no questions asked. The one time it happened from a random store many years ago was much worse as they kept pointing fingers at the delivery company who pointed fingers back at the store... never got refund/product]


This is...maybe an actual (joke) solution to a real problem in LA where (unlike NYC, not sure about other places) they will not take anything more than what fits in a small recycle bin

Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I just cut large boxes down to size if necessary in Los Angeles (all boxes I at least flatten, if its still too big I cut down the seams... not sure if this affects its recycle potential or whether it would be recycled either way in practice).
[Also, the blue bin is quite huge, but maybe this is a "house vs apartment" kind of thing and some people have smaller bins]
posted by thefoxgod at 1:44 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


I once had a package get stolen that was a John Coltrane boxed set. I was mad, but I was offended when about a week later the box showed up open on my step.

that honking thing does get old, I admit
posted by thelonius at 1:44 PM on February 22 [9 favorites]


One thing that's relatively nice about working from home: someone briefly knocks and then runs away after leaving the package, so I know it's out there to go get, and nobody is forcing me to physically sign for anything unless booze is involved. I have had two stolen when someone didn't knock, though. I'm signed up for USPS Informed Delivery, but their website refuses to let me log in (it tells me every password is invalid even if I just changed it) so I can't check on what it is or if it showed up, though.

So drivers have been known to just leave a sticker on the door and not even attempt to deliver the package, as that takes less time.

I KNEW IT. In the beforetimes I would actually stay home from work and sit outside my front door in the cold because of that shit.

I've had Amazon leave a package in a "secure location on your property" and the photo was the package out in the fucking rain in the middle of my neighbors muddy driveway

My job involves mailing important documents and I've had people complain multiple times that their documents were literally thrown into a puddle.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:47 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Let us just savor the bitter late stage capitalist taste of defending the theft of your Amazon packages by buying a Ring camera.

Ring, the security system owned by...Amazon.
posted by jeremias at 2:01 PM on February 22 [23 favorites]


the nearest Amazon locker location to anywhere in Northern Brooklyn appears to be at a customer service desk at a Whole Foods in MANHATTAN.

Google Maps shows a bunch of Amazon locker locations all over Brooklyn....
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:02 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I had a box of medication stolen off my doorstep, and boy, bringing together FedEx and my insurance company’s pharmacy wing was sufficiently painful I almost considered skipping the 90 days of insulin completely as being less horrible an idea. FedEx didn’t want to listen to me and the pharmacy claimed that it was shipped and therefore my problem if I didn’t get it. I had to escalate both sides multiple times and then finally do this while doing a three way call just to get them talking. I think the phrase “I have missed almost a week of my insulins as the result of this, and my next step after this is going to my company’s HR and shipping departments” suddenly had them much more willing to help, but it was three weeks before that happened.

As as of right now. FedEx has lost a box of Girl Scout Cookies - they hit the distro center and disappeared. And the bakery’s fulfillment team isn’t responding to me. My spouse needs them Thin Mints, dammit.
posted by mephron at 2:10 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I just cut large boxes down to size if necessary in Los Angeles (all boxes I at least flatten, if its still too big I cut down the seams... not sure if this affects its recycle potential or whether it would be recycled either way in practice).
[Also, the blue bin is quite huge, but maybe this is a "house vs apartment" kind of thing and some people have smaller bins]


Ha no it sounds like you're doing it the right way - we just have an enormous amount of packaging material come through our house. in part because amazon is somehow still absolutely terrible at packaging... we'll get four boxes for what could have fit in one (often in the same day, not from 3rd party sellers).
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:16 PM on February 22


I've been living in low rise rentals with no concierge and you had to be buzzed into the building. Canada Post was generally decent, leaving pick up slips (and the density of post offices isn't bad) but Fedex, DHL, UPS would divert undelivered packages to depots - usually out of the way and with limited hours.

As of a few years ago, Canada Post offers a free service called FlexDelivery that gives anyone a free PO box and their choice of post office to which to deliver packages. You get an email/ text for when it's ready to pick up - even more reliable that regular posties leaving pickup slips.

Used to be that some companies used to not deliver to PO boxes, but I don't think I've run into that in the last few years.

At my current highrise rental, all kinds of deliveries are just left in the lobby (or sometimes in front of the unit door) but the theft rate is surprisingly negligible.

There is also a (very small) Canada Post locker in the lobby, and have gotten one (random, didn't need a signature) delivery into it (the key is left in your mailbox, you return it after opening the locker), but I have no idea what the queue process is.
posted by porpoise at 2:29 PM on February 22


This is...maybe an actual (joke) solution to a real problem in LA where (unlike NYC, not sure about other places) they will not take anything more than what fits in a small recycle bin.

Use the MYLA311 app to order a full size bin. My recycle bin was 55gal, exact size of my regular trash can.
posted by sideshow at 2:37 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I live in a low trust society.
Nobody would dream of leaving any delivery, not even a box of tissues, at all, ever, for any reason, by itself outside of any kind of building or house.
The fact that in other countries this is seen as normal is like you were discussing something from another planet.
posted by signal at 2:39 PM on February 22 [17 favorites]


But it isn't normal. They're supposed to attempt delivery and if no one is around then either hold for re-delivery or provide details so that the recipient can pick them up from a local post-office or depot. They've stopped doing a proper delivery job because no one wants to pay for shipping and so they're on too-tight schedules. But the predictable result of this is all the items being stolen from stoops, lobbies, porches, etc.

90,000 items a day in NYC?!
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:49 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Last week Fedex delivered a signature required package to my door without knocking or getting a signature (was 10x iPhone 12s). I wonder how it would go down if I just "stole" them myself and claimed I never received it? I mean they don't have my signature and they know damn well their drivers don't bother. Would Apple just keep resending $10k again and again?

I didn't do it, but I thought about it. Not really because I wanted the cash, but just to let capitalism realign their delivery priorities. But I think it would need to become widespread to have a real effect on their behavior.
posted by ryanrs at 3:06 PM on February 22 [9 favorites]


They pretend this is a real job (no algorith(s), surveillance, squeezing for more, etc)

We pretend to do it.
posted by aleph at 3:09 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Oh, and I've definitely caught Fedex drivers forging my signature (just copying the recipient name). So a little fraud doesn't seem out of bounds.
posted by ryanrs at 3:31 PM on February 22


Keep in mind the number of stolen packages per day necessarily includes however many people pull “it didn’t arrive / was stolen” fraud in NY every day.
posted by floam at 3:37 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Nobody would dream of leaving any delivery, not even a box of tissues, at all, ever, for any reason, by itself outside of any kind of building or house

Wait till you hear about the people I knew from Michigan that didn’t lock the front door!

Seriously though, density and foot traffic is an important factor. I’m in a suburb of a moderate sized city in NC and the answer to “have you ever seen someone who does not live on your street walk or drive through after 8 pm?” Is no. There just aren’t people going back and forth like in most parts of NYC. the downside of course is sprawl, which is a pretty big downside.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:37 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Keep in mind the number of stolen packages per day necessarily includes however many people pull “it didn’t arrive / was stolen” fraud in NY every day.

Yes, but perhaps the problem is there isn't enough package theft, heh.
posted by ryanrs at 3:41 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I live in a low trust society.
Nobody would dream of leaving any delivery, not even a box of tissues, at all, ever, for any reason, by itself outside of any kind of building or house.

Are you saying you think NYC is a high trust society? People outside the US please come to grips with the fact that the US is broken we are not stupid we have just been brought down by various societal illnesses. We're not just doing everything the worst possible way because we don't know any better. It's just broken.
posted by bleep at 3:45 PM on February 22 [14 favorites]


My in-laws from the PRC were shocked (and impressed, I guess) delivery drivers could leave packages at my door when they stayed with me for a few months. It was pretty unfathomable to them.
posted by floam at 3:58 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Google Maps shows a bunch of Amazon locker locations all over Brooklyn....

The nearest one is still 20 minute walk, which is a hell of a pain in the ass for someone recovering from a limb injury.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:07 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I mean, at least it's not Manhattan; but yeah, fair enough.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:19 PM on February 22


This feels like a mob thing. Or organized something, it isn’t easy to flip things.

A what the what now?

Ebay, craigslist, FB groups, all sorts of new person-to-person sales apps (OfferUp I think is one), or the classic pawn shops or in the right neighborhood just hanging around on the corner and asking folks walking past if they wanna buy a whatever-it-is cheap.

Turning stolen shit smaller than an automobile into cash is super easy for any random schmuck, especially since your cost to acquire it is $0 (zero), so anything you get for it is profit.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:25 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


I've always had a PO box because I travel a lot (in normal times) and didn't want an accumulation of mail advertising that. I have packages delivered there as well. For companies that don't deliver to PO boxes, I can write the street address and put my box number as the "apartment" and it works. Package tracking sometimes lists that it is due to be delivered Saturday afternoon or Sunday, when it's possible to access your mail box--it's open 24 hours--but the windows are closed. I always figured that the delivery driver recognised the street address, knew that no postal workers were there to sign for it and just kept them in the truck until Monday. Until the Saturday evening when I went to check my mailbox and saw a neat stack of packages outside the door to the sorting room. Now I want to know if they have surveillance cameras.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:32 PM on February 22


I do both UPS My Choice and FedEx Delivery Manager, and it's made everything so much better (now I only have USPS to worry about)! There are more than a few pickup locations within 4-6 blocks of me (South Brooklyn).
posted by unknowncommand at 4:33 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Amazon put a Locker-type thing in the basement of my NYC apartment building. Any company can put packages into it though. About 25% of the time my packages go into that thing. The rest of the time they are dumped under the mailboxes inside the apartment lobby, which is certainly a lot better than being left outside but I've had packages stolen from there a few times.

When my health insurance insisted that I had to get my prescriptions by mail, I rented a box, which wasn't cheap. But there's no way I was going to chance leaving something that looked like prescription medication just lying around my apartment lobby.
posted by Ampersand692 at 4:42 PM on February 22


Props to all our delivery drivers who come up nearly a full flight of stairs to get stuff to our front door. And generally wait for a signature when they knock, too.

We considered putting our mailbox at sidewalk level, but people do weird shit to anything left at sidewalk level.

All the new condo buildings I visited in the last few years had "package rooms" but they mostly had a desk clerk at least most of the day to take stuff in and ?check who picked it up?. I wonder if this would be a business for bodegas/corner businesses/ground floor retirees; what does it take to become a package pickup/dropoff business? Would they get robbed too much?
posted by clew at 4:46 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I don't live in NYC but this is one reason why I've rented a private mailbox for decades (the other reason being stalkers).
posted by Jacqueline at 5:00 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


We moved into a house in Brooklyn that has a camera up front, so we get to see what's going on out there, and we have never seen anyone nab a package from us. What we have had are packages that were misdelivered, and we've had a ton of stuff misdelivered to us, often because the buyer screwed up the address. (One night early in the pandemic a box of a dozen fancy birthday cupcakes showed up on our doorstep, and we spent hours fruitlessly scouring google trying to find the correct address of the birthday girl.) I'm wondering how many presumed stolen packages just showed up at or were sent to the wrong place.

I'll tell you what we have had stolen from in front of our house, though: our baby stroller. Twice. Not a nice fancy one that you'd resell; both were beat to hell. I figure if shit is bad enough that you need to steal a baby stroller, though, I'm going to give you a pass on it.
posted by phooky at 5:06 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


I live in one of the densest and most economically diverse parts of a big US city. I've heard of one instance of package theft in my building in six years. It's never happened to me. People leave stuff in the lobby all the time. I don't know that aligns with this story. I'm not saying it's not true.
posted by eotvos at 5:08 PM on February 22


It varies a lot. I live downtown of a fairly large west coast US city, and I don't know if I've ever had anything stolen off the porch, i suspect the handful of missing packages over nearly 20 years were probably mis-deliveries. It's true we have a foyer, and a porch where packages can be pushed out of sight, but a lot of the time they just drop things on the visible part of the porch and they'll sit there for hours or sometimes days until I wander past. I've been depending on delivery for the last year, so it would be really annoying to have to go drive to pick up my packages somewhere.
posted by tavella at 5:47 PM on February 22


On low trust / high trust societies - when I visited the US a few years back I was shocked that to get a full tank of gasoline using cash or debit, you had to pre-pay for gasoline at the pump, fill your car up to full, then go back in and reverse the transaction to get your change. In Australia we just fill up the car first, then go inside and pay whatever you owe.

I think the accumulation of inefficiencies throughout the entire system due to lack of trust must be staggering.

On the topic of prescription medicine, one case here involved sending a $10,000 packet of medicine to a patient via courier because of Covid restrictions, of course it went missing, the courier company lied about getting a signature, and it turned out they misdelivered it to the wrong address without getting a signature, and the person who got this package saw it wasn't for them so like a responsible citizen they wrote return to sender / wrong delivery on it and dropped it in the post box. On a weekend, so there was no way to retrieve it.
posted by xdvesper at 6:17 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


it isn’t easy to flip things. If you're broke, and package theft is rarely investigated or prosecuted, then it makes sense to steal packages. It could be something worth a fair bit, or something you can get a couple bucks from, and if not, dump it and move on. Low risk, possible reward.

Amazon is *so profitable* they can absorb the cost of replacing that many packages, and not seem to care much about it.

My mail carrier, Billy, is really good about making sure packages are safe and managing mail delivery; I've made him pie. I make cookies, too, sometimes the other carriers get them, and that's all good. Apparently I live in Mayberry.
posted by theora55 at 6:55 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


About three years ago my wife's Amex got compromised, and I soon noticed that mine also stopped working. So I call them up and for some reason it takes like 10 minutes to even get the rep to admit that they had turned off my card. So at that point I'm a little impatient, I say "well we'd better replace it, then" and when given the options for shipping the new one I'm like "FED EX, OBVIOUSLY."

Two days later we get a new security call with a bunch of new purchases - about $1000, all in our NYC 'hood. I'm sorting it out with them and it eventually dawns on me that this is the new card, that I never even saw. FedEx had just left the envelope on our apartment doormat and somebody snatched it up and went on a shopping spree.

Since the pandemic started we've had five packages stolen. It's just crazy.
posted by anhedonic at 7:02 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


I just got a package tucked neatly by my door, but it was actually for a few doors down so I took it there. No idea how often that happens to packages coming to us, but we redeliver a few times a year.

But now I know that one of my neighbors uses a nym or business name that is fascinatingly unlike their social presentation and I have to forget it. I’m not even letting myself google it.
posted by clew at 7:24 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


But it isn't normal. They're supposed to attempt delivery and if no one is around then either hold for re-delivery or provide details so that the recipient can pick them up from a local post-office or depot. They've stopped doing a proper delivery job because no one wants to pay for shipping and so they're on too-tight schedules.

Err, no? I've been ordering things online and mail order since the 90s, and in most places I've lived, the standard has always been to leave it unless a signature is specifically required by the shipper. And that's what I want. The area I live in does not have a package theft problem. It would be a massive headache to me if they required me to come to the door for every delivery.

I get that it is very obviously not ideal in NYC or some other areas, but leaving packages without talking to someone is about as normal as it gets (in the US with the major carriers), and is not something that just recently started because of free shipping and capitalism.

Don't punish all of us for problems that exist in a few areas.
posted by primethyme at 7:41 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


I live in an apartment building with a semi-secure package room. Things mostly get through; a few have gone missing but it could just as easily have been misdeliveries as theft. I also had a couple of boxes recently that were misdelivered to someone else and they brought them to me -- I was very grateful because those were irreplacable items, not things that could be reordered. A few packages have been dumped out on the sidewalk, which might as well just put a "free" sign on it.

For things where I worry more about theft, I get that sent to my office but with work from home that is a pain to go and pick up.

I'm really sympathetic to the delivery people, who are all working under difficult circumstances. At the same time, it is frustrating when something just gets dumped.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:46 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


My apartment complex has a HUGE bank of Luxer Lockers (very like Amazon lockers, but not just for Amazon). We had 1/3 as many but the pandemic hit and we all started shopping as our 2nd hobby, so the place invested in more. I pay $50 a year to not have my packages stolen, essentially, or have to race home to beat the apartment office closing. I am sure thieves could smash their way into these but they so far have not. Our mailbox kiosk though has been broke into so often that management added a prison door to it.

I've been looking for a new apt, but them having these lockers is high on my prio list.
posted by taterpie at 8:43 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


leaving packages without talking to someone is about as normal as it gets (in the US with the major carriers)

This is not actually true in NYC.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:58 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


If you're broke, and package theft is rarely investigated or prosecuted, then it makes sense to steal packages. It could be something worth a fair bit, or something you can get a couple bucks from, and if not, dump it and move on. Low risk, possible reward.

Irregular, unpredictable rewards create stronger mental reinforcement than certain reward. This is the same psychology behind gambling and similar things like video game loot boxes.

I bet it's addictive.
posted by ryanrs at 9:08 PM on February 22 [12 favorites]


Speaking of addictive, if you're stealing packages in NYC probably 1 in 100 has "interesting" contents (more if you exclude Amazon boxes from the denominator).
posted by praemunire at 9:22 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


For anything of significant value, I generally go to a store, assess the quality of the products available, pick the highest value, long-lasting item they have, and pay for it at the checkout.In a lifetime I've never had a recent purchase pulled out of my hands as I walked to the car.

The story of the lady whose father's Rolex was stolen is very sad. He could have chosen to send it to a US post-office box. Or sent it General-Delivery. In either case, a US post-office is a MUCH safer location for such a valuable.

"Every dollar is a vote." *Never* in a lifetime have I lost a package sent via USPS. Your choice. Is Amazon still a better choice for you? Then by all means. Once all of the public services are dead, there'll but nothing left but private ones. Right, Texas???
posted by Twang at 9:36 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


No, don't send rolexes to a po box or general delivery, jesus christ. You send it insured for the actual value (i.e. $25k or whatever). And yeah, you will pay for that service.
posted by ryanrs at 9:51 PM on February 22 [16 favorites]


Amazon is *so profitable* they can absorb the cost of replacing that many packages, and not seem to care much about it.

And, as pointed out elsewhere but it bears repeating, if it was from a third-party seller it’s not even Amazon footing the cost of the replacement. (I don’t sell on Amazon so I’m not familiar with the terms, but it wouldn’t shock me to learn that the third-party seller pays the shipping again, too, and probably some sort of extra fee on top of that. Maybe they ding the “independent” delivery driver in some way, too?)

As a retailer who ships products, it sucks to be on the other side of this. USPS (and the other carriers) is never going to pay out a claim for a package that has been scanned as delivered, so we are stuck either refunding it or replacing it.

But at the end of the day, that’s just part of the retail life, e-commerce edition.
posted by jimw at 10:00 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


That's only true when they can get away with it. When I ship guns through UPS, they don't leave those packages on the street. Because if they lose a gun, the ATF will crawl up their ass and make them find it.

Every now and then a delivery employee will try to steal a package with a gun. They usually get caught because they will turn the distribution center upside down to find it.
posted by ryanrs at 10:06 PM on February 22 [9 favorites]


The building I live in now has an intercom at the door to buzz delivery people in. Nobody home, they can just drop it in one of the lockers in the lobby and they pop the deliver slip in the mailbox with the combination to the locker. Easy. We don't have enough lockers so get your stuff out promptly to be a good neightbor.

When we moved in, I ordered a new wifi router. Marked as delivered. No slip in the mailbox, but something visible in the tiny window in one box that never moved. I kept pestering amazon to just send me the combo. They are automatically generated on the delivery slips. No. They just redelivered another one. Tried weekly for a while to get the damn combo. Meanwhile, the locker system is clogged. Finally the building management company opened it and chewed us out for not grabbing our packages.

Previous place did not have a locking entryway or lockers (until recently), so the delivery guys were supposed to come up to my fourth floor walk up. I tried really hard to schedule deliveries (you can select 2-4 hour windows and the deliveries come during those windows) and be home so they wouldn't run up and then have to carry stuff back down. Once I indicated that they could leave stuff at the door. They left it against the door when I was home without ringing. In the corner with the wall. Effectively barricading me in. Had to just smash the door into the box repeatedly to smush it and force it away. Lucky for me it was mostly cheap lightweight stuff in a too large box not a solid cube. Guess what response I got from Amazon re: "your delivery potentially endangered my life."
posted by Gotanda at 10:30 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I ship tons of games to folks. Have never had a problem other than when shipping to Brazil, which I won't do anymore. Maybe USPS medium flat-rate boxes aren't that sexy for thieves? And, most of our Amazon deliveries get a knock or doorbell rings about 30% of the time here in North Seattle.
posted by Windopaene at 10:44 PM on February 22


My previous job was on a street with a bunch of apartments over retail spaces. The entrance up to these apartments is often right on the street, like a door and doorbell with maybe a single step and then sidewalk. Our UPS guy told us that if a signature was not required and there was no answer, they were instructed by Amazon to leave any Amazon package right there on the sidewalk of a busy retail corridor.

This job we shipped a lot of gold and silver bullion, coins, and jewelry (we traded investment grade precious metals and had an EBay store), and unless it had to be overnighted or was an extremely high value package we shipped it USPS. I don't remember anything getting lost or stolen in the three years I was there.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:37 PM on February 22


This is end-stage capitalism at work. Delivery drivers (many being 'independent' contractors) are required to deliver ludicrous quantities of deliveries for very long hours per day for very low pay. Branded van? They probably had to rent it at expensive rates. No sick leave or holiday pay, and they can get charged if they miss a shift. Like any customer-service job, subject to abuse, e.g. for previously failed deliveries by other drivers.

They chuck and dash because there simply isn't time to do anything else and keep up with their targets, with hefty penaltiesor even the sack if they don't meet them. For Amazon, it's cheaper to pay for a replacement package sometimes (or force the 3rd party seller to) - since sometimes people also just eat the cost than make a fuss - than to actually pay livable wages to enough drivers to give them time to actually ensure a package is delivered.

I don't know what conditions are like for USPS workers, but the UK royal mail service has also deteriorated markedly the last few years due to cost cutting - more deliveries per shift, longer routes, and less staff has had the inevitable impact. Parcel delivery is also less profitable than letters; and covid has accelerated the ongoing decline in sending letters. They do have minimum wage and sick leave and pensions as they're employees, so they're often outbid by the cheaper private delivery firms that push those costs onto the contractors. So I still prefer to get royal mail deliveries where I can, but these days it's often only hermes/DPD/amazon's own private network as an option.

Fortunately I live fairly rurally, so I can get away with leaving stuff hidden behind the bins or even just on the door step when I'm at work, almost all of the time. I don't risk higher value items that way. (Personal parcel deliveries are banned at work due to the sheer volume overwhelming the mail office, which is nominally only part of their job)
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 12:57 AM on February 23 [9 favorites]


Amazon is *so profitable* they can absorb the cost of replacing that many packages, and not seem to care much about it.

This is not correct. The price of stolen items is calculated into the price of everything at the store. They know how much they’ll lose and just add it to the price of everything. Even for third parties the charge a higher shipping rate for insurance to refund the seller for the stolen item, so it can be resent again (if the sellers don’t want to use Amazon shipping other insurance is available).

They found an equilibrium they’re happy with and aren’t losing a cent on stolen packages.
posted by jmauro at 1:53 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


Have never had a problem other than when shipping to Brazil, which I won't do anymore.

In Brazil most delivery drivers will ring your bell and then make you walk out to the truck to collect your item, if you get mugged walking back up to your apartment that's then your problem and not theirs.
posted by Lanark at 3:33 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


The story of the lady whose father's Rolex was stolen is very sad. He could have chosen to send it to a US post-office box. Or sent it General-Delivery. In either case, a US post-office is a MUCH safer location for such a valuable.

Could we maybe have at least just this one thread where people don't post holier-than-thou comments about people's misfortune where they imply that "well, if they were really smart, like me, they'd have done the right thing?....."

Sheersh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:07 AM on February 23 [11 favorites]


When I still lived in the US, a visitor staying with me asked me to order something from Amazon on their behalf. It did not arrive, although in theory it had arrived. So I called Amazon, which shipped a replacement, which we did get. Then three days after that, the original package somehow showed up. My visitor decided to keep both of them, so I called Amazon to explain the situation and to ask to be charged for the second item.

Apparently, Amazon is not built to accommodate people who want to pay for replacement items after the stolen/mislaid/whatever item eventually arrives at the correct address. In fact, it was such a pain in the ass that I basically vowed to myself to never ever do that again. Luckily, I now live in a country that mostly doesn’t use Amazon. Its arrival was relatively recent and the company was mocked fiercely after the official unveiling of its new Swedish website, which had many many mistranslations.

Everybody’s situation is different; most of us make the best choices we can given whatever is going on at the moment. Because of Covid, I have been ordering my prescription medicine. The last delivery was kind of horrifying to me because the poor driver got lost and I had to come out of my apartment building to help him find me. When we eventually found each other, he handed over the medicine with bare hands during a below-freezing night that was super fucking cold. I was not surprised that he appeared to be someone just like me, someone who was not been born in Sweden.

Package theft sucks. Ditto late-stage capitalism. I still hate FedEx for having destroyed a vintage poster when I shipped it from the US to Sweden. It had not occurred to me that it might be delivered with random holes punched through the mailing tube.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:00 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


Here in Berlin, giving packages to the neighbors is a well-established method of delivery as is leaving things at one of the many spätis (bodegas) that also serve as Paketshops. I hate that sometimes they take it straight to the paketshop and sometimes they make us come down to get it at the building door, but overall, it's pretty chill.
posted by dame at 6:00 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


That's only true when they can get away with it. When I ship guns through UPS, they don't leave those packages on the street. Because if they lose a gun, the ATF will crawl up their ass and make them find it.

They for sure track gun packages more closely. They are supposed to track alcohol shipments fairly tightly as well, including requiring ID and a signature to deliver. But since covid started, every alcohol order I've made has been left unattended, no signature/ID required. I don't know if the delivery people are violating policy, or if their policies were changed to reduce the drivers' exposure risks.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:16 AM on February 23


Oh, yeah, I got wine delivered, no signature, and it was in my driveway, and clearly labeled wine. Neighborhood kids are slackers, I guess.
posted by theora55 at 6:32 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


bleep: "Are you saying you think NYC is a high trust society?"

I'm saying that some packages left outside people's buildings or homes in NYC are not stolen.
This would not be the case in Chile.
posted by signal at 7:16 AM on February 23


My UPS guy was always nice (made a delivery during the Polar Vortex), but I really don't like dealing with the company.

UPS is literally the worst. During the pandemic they shitcanned all their phone customer service so if you have a problem with your package and need to talk to someone you have to cart your ass into a local center and hopefully have someone give you the time of day about your problem.

I guess, screw making your customers risk COVID to handle their problems. Cut the staff, the bottom line matters more than customers lives (or the staffs lives for that matter.).

Yeah, fuck UPS.

USPS is gold.
posted by deadaluspark at 7:46 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


This has been a problem for a very long time, and it's why I got a PO box when I lived there. It was really inconvenient because the local post office was only open when I was at work.
posted by wondermouse at 7:49 AM on February 23


I don't live in a great neighbourhood in Toronto and while my building does have a small lobby (5x5' room) it's out of the weather, but boxes left in it are going to go missing pretty quick. In the before times I'd get stuff delivered to my office but being home all the time has made things better. Amazon in particular is good about calling or buzzing and never leaving stuff just sitting there. Canada post is good as well, but UPS is almost always crap. I've lost track of the number of times i've checked the tracking and found that they've just dumped the package.

I've still had pretty good luck though. I've only lost one package and it was an envelope with some tickets. Good luck to the thief on using those Scooter tickets for a show in Berlin! But UPS was garbage with that... they claimed that it had been delivered to the 'side door' and signed for. Again I live in an apartment.... our side door if it existed would be in a locked alleyway, same for pretty much every building on this block.
posted by cirhosis at 8:36 AM on February 23


As someone who's probably more square than I think I am, I've recently had a couple of small introductions to The Underground Economy, and frankly I'm impressed. Speaking to 'it's hard to turn this stuff over,' 'what are they doing with it,' etc. I mean, I'm sure if you grab a box that has minor stuff you're not interested in, you just toss it, but: on Instagram alone, there are a ton of 'raffle' accounts: the person announces a giveaway, anything from specialty interest items like fancy beer from breweries that aren't licensed to ship, to PS5s or Switches, collectible figures, etc. They'll take a set number of entrants, you paypal or venmo them ten bucks per entry or whatever, they do a drawing, make a profit, and send you your stuff. I never really thought that some of this stuff is probably stolen.
posted by Occula at 10:22 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


so I called Amazon to explain the situation and to ask to be charged for the second item.

Jeepers creepers.
posted by floam at 11:26 AM on February 23 [7 favorites]


> The closest I've ever had was a box going to the neighbor's house in front of ours and having to go rescue it back....and because they weren't home feeling like I looked sketchy as hell taking my package back from their doorway.

Fed Ex dropped off a package for me that was addressed to someone down the street, and a package for me went missing, so I walked that package down to see if mine was on their porch. It was, so I knocked to explain what I was doing in case it looked strange. The neighbor at first thought I was up to something but then accepted my story and I left with my package.

The weird thing: the neighbor had no idea who I was. I was standing there thinking "I know your name, I know your dog's name, you said something unforgettably rude to me at our last caucus, I know where your kid goes to college," and he thought I was just some random woman doing something sketchy to his mail.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:00 PM on February 23 [9 favorites]


I guess I'm lucky that I've only had one package stolen during the course of this pandemic. It was early on in the lockdown, when I ordered a bunch of loungewear from Uniqlo because it had rapidly become apparent that my supply of lounge pants was inadequate for quarantine life. Our mail room is in the front lobby, which is ostensibly locked, but I suppose it's easy enough to slip inside if the door doesn't close all the way, or if someone lets you in.

Uniqlo, I suppose not unjustly, said it wasn't their problem that the package got stolen, because FedEx had reported it delivered. So I submitted an insurance claim to my credit card (an underappreciated credit card benefit!), but I had to file a police report for the claim, which you can thankfully do online. Obviously I didn't expect the report to go anywhere, but I still got a scoldy email back from the LAPD all "well, don't have packages shipped to your clearly not secure enough lobby, or have it sent to the Post Office or a PO Box," and like. During a pandemic? When we were under a pretty strict lockdown order and non-essential businesses were closed? Come on.

Anyway, my credit card company paid out the claim, so I guess my tip is: check your credit card benefits. It may be easier to submit an insurance claim and police report for stolen goods than it is to fight with the retailer or the shipping company, and at least you'll get your money back.
posted by yasaman at 12:17 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I've been lucky in that I can't recall ever not getting a package at my current address. Sometimes they deliver it to the apartments next door, but my landlord is the same as their's so I've had him hand the packages to me occasionally. But nothing ever completely missing. I have a fenced-in front porch that opens up to a street with a lot of foot traffic in a tourist area so the delivery people just toss whatever it is over the fence. No knock or anything. Just the sound of a box hitting the ground. Most of the time this is fine. But I'm hesitant to buy anything potentially fragile. No electronics. No glass or ceramic items. Nothing that can't survive a seven foot drop onto brick. And things have mostly been OK. I have had to stop getting meal kit deliveries though after several deliveries had smashed ingredients or sauces/oils leak over everything else. I tried them when I started working from home and wanted to continue. But I couldn't. I"m home 99% of the time now. If they would knock I would answer. But they don't.
posted by downtohisturtles at 1:11 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


I am somewhat convinced that some if not many of the thefts are inside jobs. People who have access to someone vestibule or lobby. Sketchy neighbor comes home purposely around the time FedEx delivers, checks the boxes for good return addresses and picks it up and walks upstairs. Never looks like they were up to no goof.
posted by AugustWest at 3:20 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I live in a 70 year old sub-urb than is practically downtown nowadays. My door faces the street but it is both 70' away from the pavement and somewhat obscured by trees. I don't think I've been a porch pirate victim but I have had a few packages not get delivered so who knows.

Whether Canada Post or Purolator or whatever "independent contractor" is rolling plain white vans they all ding and dash packages now which has been easy to verify now that I'm home 160+ hours a week. Serious improvement over the Canada Post contractor we were getting a few years ago who wouldn't even bother bringing the package up the drive instead weilding a filled out missed you form with instructions on how to pick up the package two days later. (I caught him once when I was working in my dark garage with a clear view of the driveway).

There are all sorts of diy and commercial locker solutions for homes with porches or otherwise space to install them and if I was experiencing theft I'd be building something. I've often thought that going forward we might see something like that integrated into homes like milk doors were at one time. Obviously not a solution for everyone or all items though.
posted by Mitheral at 3:31 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


I live in a medium size country city, on the edge of town. We don't lock our door when we head out for a walk, we do if heading into town or overnight. It clearly is a very different world to NYC.

Something great about the pandemic has been that signatures are not required for delivery anymore because covid. It means that we don't get those "hey we missed you" slips (even after sitting at home all day) and have to make it to the post office, which isn't open out of office hours. Also working from home has been good too.
posted by freethefeet at 3:49 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


dame, or any Berliner, could you talk more about the Paketshops? Are they for only one of the delivery services, or all of them? Do you know how hard it is to get one? How careful are they about checking packages in and out? Can a private person run one?
posted by clew at 4:05 PM on February 23


On low trust / high trust societies - when I visited the US a few years back I was shocked that to get a full tank of gasoline using cash or debit, you had to pre-pay for gasoline at the pump, fill your car up to full, then go back in and reverse the transaction to get your change. In Australia we just fill up the car first, then go inside and pay whatever you owe.

Canada used to be like that, but then one too many gas station workers got run over and killed.
The owners would make the worker responsible for any losses from people driving off, so the minimum wage workers would run out to try and stop thieves from driving off.
posted by Iax at 11:12 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


clew: I can't speak for Berlin, but this is common where I live as well and here there are two types: parcel lockers, similar to the Whole Foods/Amazon setup, and shops which work as pickup points for carriers. In big cities you can get pretty much everything delivered to either a locker or a collection point; for the latter you normally need to present identification and sometimes the email/text notification from the carrier. Supermarkets are most common, but some carriers seem to allow a wider range of shops to function as collection/dropoff points.

Outside the major cities there's not as much demand, so independent carriers like UPS/DHL only do home delivery. This is normally only an issue for imported goods, though, as nearly all domestic items (and foreign items shipped through national post) get shipped by the internal postal or parcel handling system, which is well-networked enough that it's simple to direct a parcel either to a locker or a postal system pickup point, which in these smaller areas is often a subsidiary function of a supermarket for the former or connected to the transport hub for the latter.

Tangential to the thread, the national postal system also makes it simple to book a postal locker through their online app. So not only can you pack up, say, a return or a personal shipment, pay through the app and drop it in a locker for collection and delivery, but if you need to get an item from one person to another you can book a locker, leave the item, and the location and code are then sent through the app to the recipient, who can come collect them as they would a posted parcel. It's pretty convenient.
posted by myotahapea at 11:19 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Canada used to be like that

I've rarely seen a gas station in Ontario where you can't either pay at the pump or fill your tank then go inside and pay. The exceptions are usually at night.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:30 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Maybe just BC
posted by Iax at 11:31 AM on February 24


It's Grant's Law in BC and actually part of WorkSafe regulations (BC's OSHA). There was a push to make it national at adoption but apparently that hasn't happened. Note that the Grant in question wasn't trying to stop the thief merely gathering evidence (plate #) when he was killed. It is/was illegal in BC to hold employees responsible for losses assuming no fraud on their part; at worst you can be fired.
posted by Mitheral at 3:57 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


It's nerve racking waiting doe a delivery since they just toss the package on the porch without knocking or ringing. Many days I will wait attentively all day and still somehow miss hearing the delivery.

In Central Austin many of us live in houses with very small front yards so it's easy for the thieves to dash a few steps and snag the packages. Every day on NextDoor I see lots of complaints of stolen packages in this neighbourhood. Then we also have a night shift of thieves who check for unlocked parked cars and help themselves to the contents.Nothing is safe in car, in yard or on porch. They will steal plants, used shoes, urns, sports equipment, dog's balls, porch chairs and tables, art installations, really just about anything.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 6:29 PM on February 24


My condo used to take packages at security. They'd log them all and you'd get a little pink slip at your door saying you had a package. Then they modernized and you'd get an email. But since the pandemic, they stopped doing that to reduce the risk/contact for the people who work at the security desk.

Now as I understand it (I moved out for the duration of the pandemic), it's chaos. Some drivers just dump everything between the inner and outer entry doors. Some dump things in the lobby. Some dump them by the mailboxes. Some do what they're supposed to do and drop them by unit doors, sometimes the correct ones, some not. My building facebook page is filled with "THere's a pile of packages at such and such location," "I have this package not for me," and "has anyone see my package." And of course some packages never get found.

I have accidentally had some packages delivered there during the pandemic (damn default shipping address) and asked kind neighbours to track them down for me.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:14 AM on February 25


Usually the Paketshops are just for one vendor, clew — DHL, GLS, or Hermes. Amazon always leave with the neighbor. I think they are not so hard to get: there is a small bookshop that will take your returns and just has a little electronic scanner. The one that we go to most is like half bodega, half shipping store. Overall, I'd say there are 8+ within a ten-minute walk.
posted by dame at 1:57 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


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