Porch Hackers Stole My Online Shopping, But Now I Have A Secret Weapon – And Her Name Is Norma | Arwa Mahdawi
EAs soon as I decide to do something vaguely useful with my life, the universe conspires against me. Last week, for example, I decided that I was going to take up gardening. Growing things seemed like a healthy way to deal with the disintegration of American democracy and the rapid rollback of civil rights. It’s certainly healthier than my usual coping mechanisms: drinking wine and complaining.
Now, I don’t know much about gardening, but I know you need soil, so I ordered a few big bags online. The floor took a few days to arrive and just a few minutes to be stolen by porch hackers. Two guys dressed as delivery men rushed to my door and carried him in their car. Instead of spending that evening cultivating my garden, I drank wine and complained.
You may also have spotted a Porch Pirate in the wild – they’re everywhere. Online shopping has exploded during the pandemic, as has package theft – on both sides of the Atlantic. In my Philadelphia neighborhood, thieves often follow delivery vans and dress in high-visibility vests or Amazon uniforms to deflect suspicion. Ordering online has become like a real game show: you have five minutes to collect your things before someone else does.
Parcel theft is obviously not the biggest problem facing the world – usually the company you ordered from will send you a replacement – but it’s still frustrating and frustrating to have your stuff stolen so brazenly . Especially since the police don’t really care and you can’t do anything but stop ordering things from your house. (Which I will never do because 1) I don’t have a car and 2) I’m lazy.)
You know what doesn’t deter package thieves? Video doorbells or security cameras. There was a video doorbell on our house when we moved in, so I turned it on thinking it might be useful. All he does is record footage of the porch hackers at work, which only adds insult to injury. The doorbell also sends you so many notifications that you can go from a normal person to a paranoid freak in a matter of days.
Another very bad idea to deal with package thieves is to try to outsmart them with fake packages containing dog poo or glitter. Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer, gained slight internet fame with YouTube videos of glitter-laden package bombs exploding on the pirate porch. The videos are satisfying to watch but I wouldn’t try it at home unless you want to make yourself a target for someone with questionable morals and your address.
The only benefit I’ve found to rampant package theft is that it’s been a great way to meet neighbors. There’s a lovely old lady across the street named Norma who has taken it upon herself to be the neighborhood watchman. She sits outside her house on a folding chair most days and grabs packages whenever she sees them, which is extremely helpful. The only problem now is that I never know if a thief has the package or if Norma has it.
She can also, thank goodness, be a bit overzealous: the other day I took out a bucket of food scraps for the composting service to pick up and she ran away with it. “Someone will take the bucket!” she chided when I explained that I left it out on purpose. “They will empty what’s inside and use it for cleaning.” It really was quite a heartwarming image: a porch pirate coming home from a long day sweeping up packages to clean the floor using my compost bucket.
Either way, there are three morals to this story: 1) secure your leftover food, 2) get rid of your video doorbell, and 3) find yourself a Norma.