The enormous increase in product delivery versus in-store shopping means package theft has become a constant worry for property managers and landlords even more than residents. While a person who’s ordered a high-ticket item is usually on the lookout for it and may even be following its progress via tracking number, a management office cannot be aware of the dozens of packages en route to various tenants from various delivery services. Yet, whenever something gets stolen, complaints to management are swift, angry, and -- given social media -- very public.
That being the case, it’s no surprise that landlords and community managers are trying to figure out how to stop package theft. While ultimately the enforcers against porch piracy have to be law enforcement, there are several measures property and community managers can implement.
Doorman receives and signs
One of the classic perks of a doorman building is that when a package is delivered for a building resident, the doorman either calls them to let them know that the package has arrived or signs for the package and holds it. While this puts doormen in a potentially vulnerable position just due to having so much accountability, it’s definitely still one of people’s favorite amenities -- especially when combined with a modern notification method.
Direct message notification from doormen
Although people have a lot of trust in doormen, especially longtime workers in buildings where people live for a long time, there is still always that risk that the doormen will lose track of a package. To mitigate this, a lot of buildings have set up an auto-message system whereby residents get either an email or a text to let them know when a package has arrived, been signed for by a doorman (sometimes), or dropped at the front desk without a signature.
Surveillance cameras visible on property
While it’s not mandatory that a landlord or property manager have functioning cameras, the visible presence of security cameras is a major deterrent to theft. And of course, ideally the cameras are functional, online, and networked into a central control unit.
Larger complexes are using smart-locked gates that are controlled by an app that also allows for communication between delivery person and resident. Ideally the way this works is, when delivery people arrive at the front gate, the resident has to let them in and figure out a way to receive the package. If that person is not at home, they may instruct the delivery person to leave the package at a main office -- or even allow them inside the house via a one-time smart lock code at their front door.
'Lockers' or large lockboxes
In ungated condo communities, packages too large to fit in mailboxes are often left in large shared lockers right next to the mailboxes. Residents get a notification on a slip of paper letting them know there’s a package in the locker, and they use their mailbox key to unlock the locker and get to the package. This is a low-tech solution and not sufficient to safeguard large deliveries, but it’s an easy fix for small and medium-sized USPS package deliveries.
Similar to the lockers near mailboxes, there’s a setup where packages are not delivered to houses but to a location nearby. When a package is delivered, the resident/recipient gets a message to go pick up the package in the secured locker via a PIN. As a building manager, consider setting up smart lockers in a foyer, mailroom, or manager's office where delivery services can drop off packages in a container that locks immediately and sends a message to the recipient. This gives residents another option if they don’t feel their deliveries are secure when dropped at their front doors.
The bottom line
Landlords and property managers are not technically responsible for lost or stolen deliveries, but nonetheless these incidents can cause discord in the community, and grumbles amplify fast. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to implement a few low-cost but high-visibility measures to keep residents’ deliveries secure, especially if they request management’s help.