Package theft is a crime of opportunity. If a package is left unattended on the porch, and someone willing to steal the package sees it, there is an opportunity and the package will get stolen. More deliveries means more opportunity. It also means that if we’re clever, we can find ways to keep doing a lot of online shopping (good for business), and still get rid of the opportunity that unattended packages represent. There are lots of approaches that can be used ranging from insisting that the carriers get a signature to having all deliveries held to various sorts of lockboxes and security camera systems. However, these end up being a bit inconvenient and obtrusive (who really wants a big, steel box on their porch, anyway).
The Australian Post is trying out another solution: evening deliveries. The idea is that if packages are delivered between 5 and 7pm, there’s a greater likelihood that the residents will be home to sign for and claim their package. It’s not a bad solution. Telemarketers and political campaigns use similar solutions. Call during “dinner time” and people will be home. However, we all know how annoying those calls are. That said, it’s not a bad strategy. And if the stories told by canvassers are true, it might mean free dinner for the drivers as well.
There are potential drawbacks to this approach. Delivery between 5 and 7 would seriously constrain the number of packages that could be delivered. Especially since one of the things driving up package theft rates is the increase in online shopping. While it’s a nice idea to try to do deliveries only when residents are most likely to be home, it’s totally impractical due to the number of packages being delivered. Also, do we really want a lot of delivery trucks out during the peak evening rush hour?
How about this, a clever strategy: target neighborhoods where package theft is high and save deliveries in those neighborhoods until the prime time when residents will be home. Again, we’re trying to eliminate the opportunity, so targeting neighborhoods where there isn’t much package theft anyway isn’t doing much to eliminate the opportunity. Proper targeting for evening deliveries would allow carriers to get the most bang for their buck.
In any case, package theft is a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s great that carriers are working hard to come up with strategies to bring down the opportunity for the crime. Let’s keep thinking of strategies, and in all likelihood, it’ll be a combination of a number of them that will make a real difference.