porch pirates

Toronto has an ongoing problem with people stealing delivery parcels off porches

It's no wonder everyone loves online shopping. It's easier, more convenient and less time-consuming than going to the store.

But there is one downside, and that downside is porch theft. 

It's a phenomenon that happens all the time across Toronto, and in the rest of Canada too. Residents order a product and it appears to never arrive.

Except it does arrive, but someone, colloquially-known as a porch pirate, steals it straight off the porch before they ever have a chance to get their hands on it. 

On July 10, Leslieville resident Joe Rossi posted in the I am a Leslievillian Facebook group about an incident of porch theft in his neighbourhood. 

"I observed someone walk towards my front door, up the stairs and onto my porch," Rossi confirmed to blogTO.

"Once I got closer to home, a lady walked down from my porch with a number of bags and a parcel. I immediately noticed the parcel under her arm. The company logo on the package, from whom I expected a delivery that day, indicated to me that she had taken a package belonging to me."

Rossi said he managed to retrieve the parcel, call the police and stay with the woman until she was arrested. 

"Within minutes, a number of additional police officers arrived," he said. "I was surprised at how grateful they were, they acknowledged that it's a common problem in the area and thanked me for persevering."

Rossi added that it seems as though package theft is not just common, it's increasing. 

 "I’ve noticed many people post in our neighborhood group, and some even have video of the suspects."

He also pointed out that these incidents point to a much larger problem.

"Poverty and drug addiction create an environment and circumstances from which the majority cannot escape," Rossi said. 

"As much as we need to support our local police, be vigilant, and lookout for our neighbors, this problem will not go away without proactive support and services to assist those in poverty and Torontonians with a drug addiction."

Porch theft in Toronto is undoubtedly a side effect of wealth disparity and poverty. There is no question that major institutional and societal changes are necessary to curb the issue. 

But in the meantime, how can residents ensure their belongings aren't being stolen from right under their noses?

Well, there are a few solutions that seem to work. 

In December 2018, Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook with the Toronto Police Service told CTV News that video doorbells are a great way to increase home security and avoid thefts. 

She also said lock-boxes or door attachments, which are essentially bags or boxes that delivery people can place the package inside and then lock, are great ways to avoid porch theft. 

Customizable delivery services, such as Penguin Pickup, are also a great way to solve the problem. They allow you to use their delivery address when you order online. They notify you when your package arrives and keep it safe until you pick it up. 

While these band-aid solutions might work for a while, Rossi said it's essential that we don't lose sight of the larger issue. 

"Citizens will report, police will enforce, but without rehabilitation and services dealing with the root cause, it will be a losing battle." 

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