This holiday season, the porch pirates are in the mailroom, too

Every December, package theft soars across Los Angeles

Illustration of packages and a video camera


Once the Thanksgiving plates are cleared, winter holiday decorations go up and crowds swarm shopping malls. But for a number of Angelenos, there is a painful part of the season: gifts that disappear before they are even given.


Last December, amid non-stop deliveries from Amazon and other retailers, there were 429 reports of package theft in the city, according to publicly available Los Angeles Police Department data. That was up 27% from November and 59% from October. 


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In both 2020 and 2021, the number of package thefts in December was more than 78% higher than the count two months before.


Line chart of monthly package theft reports in the city of Los Angeles


Package theft happens throughout the year, and outside of the winter holidays there are often in the range of 200–250 reports each month. That is likely an undercount, as it only reflects instances in which a victim takes the time to contact the LAPD after a package goes missing.


Documented incidents began rising steeply in 2018. Last year there were 3,374 reported thefts in Los Angeles. That was down slightly from 2021.


Bar chart of annual package theft reports in the city of Los Angeles


With Cyber Monday in the rearview mirror, thieves are pouncing. Last week CBS2 reported on a Valley Village woman whose doorbell camera showed a person pretending to drop something off, but then stealing delivery boxes that had been left on her front step. They contained Christmas presents for her children.


According to police data, 36.6% of the package thefts this year involved an item taken from a porch or another part of a single-family home. A number of these are captured by doorbell cameras and shared on social media.


All over the city

Despite the “porch pirate” moniker, thieves also frequently grab deliveries left in the mailroom of apartment buildings and condominium complexes. According to police data, 31.5% of the reports this year—or 874 thefts—were from multi-unit structures.


That is reflected in the sizable number of thefts in dense residential neighborhoods. So far in 2023, there have been 157 reports in Koreatown. The second-highest count is the 127 incidents in Downtown.


Neighborhoods with the most package thefts in 2023


The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is among the law enforcement agencies offering tips to prevent package theft. They include asking that any delivery to a home be placed out of view, such as on the side of a residence, or requesting a signature confirmation. When ordering from Amazon, another option is having the delivery placed in a company-run storage locker.


An LAPD post last week on NextDoor urged neighbors to band together and bring in packages for each other. The department also said any victim should report theft by calling 911 or (877) ASK-LAPD, or filling out a report online.


How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from Jan. 1, 2015–Nov. 28, 2023. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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