Package theft solutions: Porch pirates are no match for these smart home devices – CNET

Package theft solutions: Porch pirates are no match for these smart home devices – CNET
04 Dec
4:26

This story is part of Holiday Survival Guide 2019, featuring tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

As online shopping and holiday gift deliveries ramp up, package theft becomes a bigger concern. 

“It’s a quick theft,” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Genae Cook told CBS affiliate WTTV. “[What] you’ll notice is cars going back and forth up and down the street, so it’s a good time for your neighbors to be diligent watching out for strangers in the neighborhood.”

Fortunately, the proliferation of smart home devices means you can now monitor deliveries without actually being home.  Read on to find out what products and services will help you keep a virtual “eye” on your holiday packages, no matter where you are. 

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The Nest Hello.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Smart doorbells

Connected buzzers work in much the same way as traditional security cameras. The hardwired Nest Hello video doorbell has high-definition resolution, a live video feed, motion alerts and more. Subscribe to the Nest Aware cloud service for access to facial recognition. Create a database of familiar faces and receive custom alerts when “Kevin,” “Ashlee” or any other frequent visitor shows up. You can also look back at your video footage with Nest Aware to help neighbors and law enforcement (if necessary) identify who’s snagging holiday deliveries.

Read more about the Nest Hello.

The Arlo Pro 3.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Battery-powered security cameras

For a less permanent option, consider a battery-powered security camera. Models like the weatherproof Arlo Pro 3 can withstand the elements (like the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor), but they are much more mobile. Use one inside to keep an eye on your pet one day and move it outside when you’re expecting a package delivery another day. And when its battery is low, just recharge it with Arlo’s included charger.

Read more about the Arlo Pro 3. 

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The Ring Spotlight Cam.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Light and security camera hybrids

Integrated porch light-security cameras are an emerging smart home security category. The Ring Spotlight Cam (pictured), the Netatmo Presence and the Ring Floodlight Cam all combine smart lighting with smart video monitoring. With each of these devices, you can watch a live video feed, receive motion alerts and talk to people via two-way audio intercoms. But you can also program the lights to turn on and off at set times.

The Spotlight Cam even has a 110-decibel siren, so you can scare someone away when needed.

Read more about the Ring Spotlight Cam.

The Amazon Key in-home delivery service. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Package deliveries inside your home

Amazon Prime members have another option to keep an eye on their packages. Instead of monitoring traditional outdoor deliveries with outdoor cameras, the Amazon Key service delivers Amazon packages inside your home. This service is available in select areas in the US. Check this list of cities to see if the Key service is available where you live. The Amazon Key In-Home Kit is required to enable the Key service. It includes one Key-enabled Amazon Cloud Cam indoor security camera and one Amazon-approved third-party smart lock. With this kit, you can receive alerts when a courier arrives and watch them deliver the package inside your home.

Amazon isn’t the first company to offer this type of service. Smart lock maker August, which Yale’s parent company acquired in 2017, offers an in-home delivery service called August Access. Walmart also claims to be working on an in-home grocery delivery service.

Read more about the Amazon Key service. 

The BoxLock smart padlock.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Smart padlocks and package storage 

In addition to outdoor cameras and in-home delivery services, select companies offer smart locks and storage options for your packages. One such company is BoxLock. Its product, also called BoxLock, is a smart padlock that works with a related BoxLock app. 

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: A BoxLock delivery partner uses the lock to scan the package bar code. The lock unlocks and they secure your delivery inside a storage container (sold separately) until you can get home and retrieve your package. UPS, FedEx, Amazon Prime and USPS are BoxLock partners. 

Amazon also offers a Locker program in select areas. Of course, you have to travel to an Amazon Locker location, but these kiosks let you pick up Amazon packages on your own schedule with a six-digit code (rather than worrying about something sitting on your front porch).

Read more about BoxLock.

Other options

If none of the above tech options appeal to you, don’t fret. You can require a signature for your delivery so packages aren’t ever left outside when no one’s home. You can also have your packages shipped to your office, or somewhere else where you’re guaranteed to be during the day.

Originally published two years ago. Updated with new recommendations.

Source: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/package-theft-solutions-porch-pirates-are-no-match-for-these-smart-home-devices/

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