Picture this: it’s the holiday season, and you’ve gone out of your way to buy your loved ones the perfect gifts. Your packages are set to arrive and you can’t wait to get home to a stuffed mailbox and a pile of boxes.
Except, there’s nothing there.
All of your care, time, and money was for naught—and all because of mail thieves.
Over the past three years, mail theft reports increased across the country by nearly 600% as recipients lost nearly $30 billion in packages and checks. But with a little research and some smart moves, you can take steps to ensure you won’t be the next victim. Here are seven ways you can prevent mail theft and keep your holiday outlook bright.
1. Install a Security Camera
The movies may make top-secret surveillance cameras seem a tool for the rich and famous, but nowadays, anyone can get a basic security camera for under $50 online. Not only do security cameras keep your house and family safe by discouraging burglars, they also send mail thieves running in the other direction. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be on! Just having a security camera makes your home 300% safer than a home without one.
We still highly recommend keeping it on, though. If a thief feels bold enough to steal, having their face on camera is a crucial step in recovering their bounty.
2. Make mail a part of your daily routine
When you get home from work, you don’t want anything standing between you, your favorite slippers, and a nice, cold drink. Add in bags of heavy groceries or a child in tow, and you definitely don’t have time for pit-stops.
While we understand, it’s still smart to make checking your mail part of your routine.
Unless you’re expecting something specific, it’s easy to let your mail go unchecked for days—sometimes even weeks! However, the longer you let mail hang out in your mailbox, the more likely it is to be stolen. Make it a habit on your way in to flip open the box and grab everything inside.
3. Leave the mailbox flag alone
Nothing says “Take me!” like a little flag waving next to a box with a check in it. While our mailbox flags were designed for convenience, in today’s world, they’re more like beacons for criminals. If you have to mail something, it’s always best to drop it off at the post office or find an official post office box on your street. You might not be thrilled about your bill collector cashing your check, but they’re certainly preferable to a random Joe off the street.
4. Decorate your lawn (no, really!)
It turns out, lawn decorations are more than just a feast for the eyes! Much like security cameras, lawn decorations, porch decorations, and other home furnishings go a long way to making your house look “lived in.” Your mailbox might not be your house, but mail thieves follow a lot of the same rules as home burglars.
The best home targets are always the ones that look easy to break into. That means dark windows, no security signs, and…no care around the front yard. Homes with decorations are less likely to be robbed because they simply look more engaged-with. The family is likely home and actively interacts with the outside of their house. It’s the same with your mailbox.
Someone who has time to decorate likely has time to check their mail or set up security—after all, they don’t want their decorations stolen either.
5. Upgrade your mailbox
With mail theft slowly increasing over the past few years, new products have launched onto the mail scene for a more secure postal experience. If you’re worried about mail deviants in your area, you might benefit from a mailbox upgrade.
The problem with standard mailboxes is that almost none of them lock. Not anymore! Lockable mailboxes are an affordable way to keep your mail exactly where you want it. They’re Postmaster General-approved and they come in a variety of sizes to fit everything from standard letters to small box packages. Deliverers of all kinds can drop packages and mail into the top section and then you can unlock the bottom to retrieve drop-offs at the end of the day.
6. Ask a neighbor to back you up
If you’re going through a particularly busy time, there’s no shame in asking for a bit of neighborly help. See if a neighbor can either grab your mail for a few days or if they can just take a peek on their walk around the block. If you're out of town, ask if you can change your package delivery address to their house.
Additionally, getting to know your neighbors might let you in on community happenings—such as other mail thefts in the area. When you and your neighbors band together, your mail’s safety shoots up tenfold.
7. Use a virtual mailbox or mail forwarding service
Of course, the best way to prevent your mail from being taken is to not have it in your mailbox at all! If you’re worried about valuables, bills, checks, or holiday gifts, the safest way to ship is with a virtual mailbox or mail forwarding service.
Particularly when traveling for the holidays, a virtual mailbox can be a lifesaver. Traveling Mailbox is your mail’s home away from home. We provide an alternative physical address as well as real-time virtual monitoring of every piece of mail you receive. The process is simple. Every time you receive new mail, we’ll scan the outside of the envelope or package, send you pictures, and wait for your instructions. We’re happy to toss, hold, or forward any precious cargo at your say-so. We can even deposit checks on your behalf if you’re busy or enjoying a well-earned vacation.
At Traveling Mailbox, we believe receiving a letter or package should be a magical moment, not a stressful race against mail bandits. Try Traveling Mailbox today and enjoy the relaxation that true security brings.