HOUSTON – It's the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are here, but so are the thieves. The porch pirates, the stoop scrooges, the lanai looters.
An estimated 36% of Americans have had a package stolen from outside their home at least once, according to C+R Research.
Including Cecilia Fiore in Bellaire.
“We actually had a couple of porch pirates that came and were stealing packages in the neighborhood a couple years ago,” Fiore said.
Fiore is a busy mother with two children, three dogs and commutes every day to the Cypress area. To protect her packages this holiday season she has scheduled deliveries to her office.
“I work on the second floor, I have to get a cart and roll it to my car. It’s a pain, it’s a pain,” said Fiore. “Then it’s a hassle lugging them home.”
Packages delivered inside garage
Recently she started trying out a new service, Amazon “Key,” which delivers packages directly into her garage.
"My garage door was capable of being able to open remotely through the amazon app,” said Fiore, “and instead of having my neighbor look out for packages, I decided to sign up for it to see how it would work. I’ve had four deliveries so far and it’s been great.
The employee never has access to your home, only your garage.
"What I like about the app, is It's linked remotely through the garage door app,” says Fiore. “So they don't have codes to enter into your home. They're only able to open the door if they're delivering a package.
Police are fighting back
Police across the country are now taking a pro-active approach to porch pirates. In some cities they've setup sting operations with bait packages.
In Deer Park, during the holidays you can get your goods shipped directly to the police station for safe keeping. Belva Cheney helps run the operation. She's a year-round volunteer with the police department and had to undergo a thorough background check.
"[Residents] do have to show us ID and their tracking and email receipt showing they placed the order before we release it," said Cheney.
Or you can get your packages delivered to an Amazon Locker around the Houston area.
Local Post app
And then there is an app called Local Post. It can essentially turn any local business into a post office where you can have your package delivered and held safely until you can pick them up.
If you still prefer the porch approach, there are devices such as a box lock that only delivery drivers have access to.
New ways to get groceries to your home
Walmart is the latest company to get into the grocery delivery business in Houston. Starting in 2020 Walmart will use Nuro’s self-driving, electric vehicles to deliver groceries to homes in select neighborhoods in Houston. Kroger currently uses Nuro self-driving cars in select neighborhoods to deliver groceries.
Walmart is already offering in-home delivery options. In three test cities: Pittsburgh; Kansas City, Missouri; and Vero Beach, Florida, customers can order groceries that are then delivered straight to their refrigerator by Walmart employees. Walmart is not yet offering the service in Houston.
Food delivery robots deployed at University of Houston
At the University of Houston, a small fleet of robots are now delivering goods across the campus.
To access the service, users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose the items they would like from one of eleven UH Dining locations and drop a pin by selecting the location on the service map where they want their food to be delivered.