Online shopping has been growing in popularity for years. but it increased dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valerie Caldwell delivers online packages for Parrot Couriers and told Global News that “I’m getting a lot of new addresses that I haven’t been to before.”
Parrot Couriers is owned by Jim Belshaw, who got the business up and running in March 2020.
In that short year, he said business has grown exponentially.
“We’re at least five times busier,” he told Global News.
Belshaw has a fleet of five vehicles dedicated solely to delivering parcels.
“In the Central Okanagan, there are somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 packages daily that go out,” Belshaw said. “So that’s people like with us and all the other couriers.”
The growth in package deliveries has led to an increase in what are called porch pirates — people who steal parcels from the front doors of homes.
“Anecdotally, we can say that it’s certainly higher in the last year because so many more of us have been doing so much more shopping from home,” said Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy.
“It’s something that we’re seeing basically consistently. It’s not so much a Christmas thing anymore. It’s a year-round thing.”
Porch pirates don’t appear to be deterred by the fact many more people are working from home. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by delivery giant FedEx, one in every three online Canadian shoppers said they experienced package theft in 2020.
That’s up from one in four in 2019.
But RCMP said there are ways to reduce the chances of falling victim to porch pirates.
They include getting a tracking number to keep tabs on when the package is due to arrive.
Consumers can also request parcels be left out of sight, behind a plant or perhaps at a side or back door.
Police are also advising to ask a neighbour to pick up the package if no one is home or consider it being delivered to your place of work.
In some cases, police said a doorbell camera can also deter thieves.
“As we’re going along with technology, those images are getting better and better,” Noseworthy said.
“A few years ago, they were pretty grainy and they were pretty difficult to make identifications on. These days, they’re getting significantly better and they’re certainly a lot more useful in terms of evidence.”
Police also encourage the public to report any suspicious activity in their neighbourhood or if they witness people scoping out front doors of homes.