Black Friday is donezo. Cyber Monday is nearly in the rearview.
But the holiday season has just begun for porch pirates.
Unsurprisingly, reports of lost, missing, or stolen packages increase exponentially in November and December, when shipping volume increases with holiday demand. In the days after big online sales, it’s less a question of if one of your great deals is going to go missing and more when.
Luckily, making it safer for your packages and less friendly to package thieves can be easily accomplished with just a couple of additions.
Yale Smart Delivery Box
I had my high hopes when I received the Yale Smart Delivery Box. I’d tried smart package boxes before, but they were complicated to use and, ultimately, ignored by delivery drivers. Even the best security isn’t of any use if people won’t use it.
Thankfully, the Yale Smart Delivery Box is as easy as lifting the lid, putting the package inside, and closing the lid. The lock automatically engages and sends a notification to your phone. You can either unlock the box so that it’s ready for the next delivery or grab your package. The only wrinkle I found was that, if you unlock the box and then another delivery is made, the box gets out of sequence (once you unlock it, the box assumes the next time it’s opened is to remove packages).
The Smart Delivery Box comes with a WiFi bridge so that you can connect to your box from anywhere, but it will also connect to your phone over Bluetooth in close proximity. You can also purchase a keypad so that others can unlock the box.
The box comes in two styles and will accommodate most packages up to 16″ high, 22″ wide, and 12-13″ deep. It assembles easily and securely. You can also add 40 lbs. of sand to the base so that porch pirates aren’t just walking off with the entire thing. The lid closes with 100 lbs. of force, so prying it open isn’t something that’s easily accomplished.
Will your delivery drivers try to cram packages in the box that don’t fit, leaving the lid ajar so that it doesn’t engage? Will they ignore the box entirely and leave packages next to it or piled on top? Also yes. The latter, I’ve found, lessens over time as they get used to it (and you add delivery instructions to your various carrier accounts). All except USPS. Even if the delivery box is wide open, they’ll put parcels on the other side of the doorway.
Part of the issue, initially, is that the Smart Delivery Box, while handy, looks exceedingly plain. The embossed DELIVERIES on the front is the same shade as the rest of the molded plastic box. I resorted to hand-painting the letters to make them stand out. I’d love it if Yale included a cardboard mask so that you could easily spray paint the letters to add some contrasting color.
Other than a carrier learning curve, I’ve been extremely happy with the security of my packages since installing the Yale Smart Delivery Box. Not only does it ensure packages don’t walk away on their own, it keeps them out of the elements. The raised base ensures that the interior stays dry and the interior vent keeps it from getting too hot. It’s a great way to easily make your front door safer for your deliveries. Grab one from the Yale website starting at $279.
Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro
I was watching the new The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and was thrilled to see a cameo from my favorite smart security gadget, the Vivint Doorbell Camera! It might not have done much to keep Mantis and Drax from busting in and abducting Kevin Bacon, but it’s much better suited at keeping packages from wandering away from your doorstep.
It’s even got a major upgrade this year. The new Gen 2 Doorbell Camera Pro has a larger light ring (to better attract attention), a louder speaker, and 180-degree horizontal and vertical detection. Yes, your new doorbell camera will be ready to track your drone-delivered package (or just one chucked there by your UPS driver’s skyhook). You can also mask off areas for the camera to ignore to avoid false-positive alerts.
It also benefits from an on-camera encrypted SD card that stores up to 10 days of recordings, making it less dependent on strong WiFi signals (which can be tough to maintain on the outside edges of your network).
The built-in AI learns over time so that it can better detect when a package is delivered, alerting you and giving you the option of monitoring it (you can also have the camera start tracking packages automatically). It’s great for those packages that are too big to fit in the Yale Smart Delivery Box (or when your carrier just ignore the box altogether).
Plus, just like other popular DIY smart doorbells, Vivint has fun seasonal chimes that you can enable for the holiday season.
Vivint’s also working on a software upgrade so that the camera can detect when a package is removed from your doorstep and react accordingly with alerts and automatically recording the activity.
Yes, you have to talk to a salesman to get Vivint installed. It’s a big turn-off for me too and something I wish they’d move away from. But, honestly, the payoff is worth it. Vivint’s techs come out and install the hardware, then make sure it’s working properly before they leave (so you’re not stuck on the phone dealing with tech support). They’re honestly some of the nicest, most competent installers I’ve ever worked with (and I’ve had my fair share of situations where I’m showing the “pro” how to do stuff).
The system is professionally monitored, so when you head out on holiday trips, your home will be safer. They’ve also made big improvements recently to their outdoor cameras (improving the imaging quality and adding a smart spotlight add-on) and are upgrading their indoor cameras in the coming months to take advantage of their new on-camera recording.
Get started with a Vivint quote on their site.