Technology company Quadient has stressed that “porch pirates” will be out in force over Black Friday and Christmas, as a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to UK police showed the number of reported parcel thefts almost quadrupled between 2019 and 2022.
The average reported value of a stolen parcel is £115.07, which with Citizens Advice claiming 1.5 million parcels are stolen each year, suggests a hidden economy of up to £172m.
Furthermore, police forces warned that just a fraction of parcel theft is reported, meaning nobody knows the true extent of the problem. Quadient compared data held by the police to Citizens Advice’s figure, and said it appears just 0.006% of parcel thefts are ever reported.
The requests, made to forces across the UK, revealed most thefts occur in November and December. There has also been a clear year-on-year increase in reported parcel thefts: from an estimated 2,700 nationwide in 2019, to almost 10,500 in 2022 – an increase of 287%.
“Parcel theft is a growing issue in the UK. In the US there is a huge problem with ‘porch pirates’ following delivery trucks around neighbourhoods and stealing parcels, and the police figures indicate criminals in the UK are increasingly recognising the same lucrative opportunity,” said Ian Caminsky, SVP & MD parcel locker solutions UKI, Quadient.
“Police forces themselves have stated that the number of reported incidents is just the tip of the iceberg; after all when parcels go missing, many people will often contact retailers and couriers, rather than the police. Yet this means the true scale of the problem facing retailers, couriers and building management remains unknown, meaning it is hard to inspire action. Something needs to change, because at the moment, this lack of understanding is playing into criminals’ hands.”
Quadient also stressed that criminals are ‘working nine to five’, with the most common time for thefts to occur was these hours. Forces also reported people aged 22-34 are the most likely to have a parcel stolen, suggesting that many parcels are stolen from young people while they are at work.
The highest average value for a stolen parcel was from City of London Police, with £1,128 – almost ten times higher than the UK average. Conversely, Durham Constabulary reported an average of £9.78 – less than a tenth of the UK average, and £1,118.22 lower than City of London.
“Whether thefts are reported to the police or not, insurers, retailers and delivery companies are covering the cost of a huge hidden economy. Ultimately consumers foot the bill for this criminal activity, as the cost will be factored into pricing decisions – businesses need to work together to draw a line in the sand,” continued Caminsky.
“There are also more hidden costs to consider – for instance, the loss of trust from residents in apartments or office blocks, and the nagging fear that a much-anticipated Christmas gift or Black Friday bargain will be stolen away. Something has to change: industries and law enforcement need to be able to see the true scale of the problem. And we all need a concerted effort to increase the reliability and safety of parcel deliveries.”