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In today’s world of online shopping, having everything shipped right to your door can be a wonderful convenience. However, it’s also led to the rise of new kinds of theft: criminals who prowl neighborhoods in search of packages left unattended on doorsteps, hoping to snag something that they can resell for a profit. And if they can’t? It certainly doesn’t mean you will get your package back. No one’s packages are immune to theft, because a criminal doesn’t know whether the package by your front door contains pajamas or an iPad, but they might take a gamble to find out.
And that’s just packages—your everyday mail can be the target of thieves looking to steal your identity, potentially costing your time, money, and a huge headache.
There are many ways to see to it that your mail or packages end up in your hands alone, or to try to frighten off these “porch pirates”: security cameras, monthly fees to FedEx and UPS for signature delivery, picking packages up from shipping centers, or even letting delivery people into your home or car. But none are as simple and worry-free as a secure mailbox for packages.
Secure mailboxes, also known as anti-theft mailboxes or parcel safes, are the best way to ensure that your packages will not be stolen between the time that they’ve been delivered and the time you’re able to get them. They come in many varieties, but most are aluminum or steel boxes that can be anchored into a cement pad and are large enough to hold most of the packages you’d get. (Mailbox Sentinel can custom-build to your specifications, if you anticipate needing a larger size or other special features.) Your packages are left in the secure box by UPS, FedEx, Amazon, USPS, or whoever is delivering—all you have to do is provide the code for the box in the Special Instructions fields that shipping companies provide when you’re tracking a package.
With the number of options on the market, how do you determine the most secure mailbox for packages? And what about other factors such as ease of use, convenience, and aesthetics? There’s a lot to consider.
First off, what makes a mailbox secure? It comes down to materials and mechanisms. Every secure mailbox is going to be made of metal, typically aluminum or steel. Unlike wood or plastic mailboxes, these durable metals ensure that your mailbox can’t be easily tampered with unless a thief has specialized tools—which is unlikely, given how conspicuous and loud they can be. Most thieves will just move on to the next house.
You’ll also want to make sure that your mailbox can be anchored to a cement pad or the wall of your home to prevent potential thieves from running off with it. A secure mounting spot is almost as important as a secure box.
Next, the mechanism. Many secure mailboxes use a baffle door similar to what you see on USPS mailboxes: a metal panel allows mail to drop in but keeps hands from reaching inside. The owner of the box can then unlock the box and retrieve the contents. Other boxes, such as those made by Mailbox Sentinel, use a mail slot inside the unit that keeps mail inaccessible to all but the owner. An added benefit of Mailbox Sentinel’s slot is that you can place a mail bag in the box to collect your mail when you leave for vacation—your mail won’t stack up and no one will know that you’re away.
Things get a bit more complex when it comes to a secure mailbox for packages. This obviously requires a much larger unit, so the baffle-style doors are impractical. Most secure mailboxes that accommodate packages do so with a locked door that is opened either by a key or digital keypad. Boxes such as Mailbox Sentinel’s use a keypad with a code that you provide to your carrier with the special instructions when you order something shipped to your home. When you want to retrieve your mail, you simply enter the code to open the box. The keypad can be powered by anything from 12v power to a small solar panel on top of your box. In the event of a power outage, a key override ensures you can still access your mail.
Mailbox Sentinel secure mailboxes also feature a mounting spot for doorbell cameras so you have an added layer of security and peace of mind when it comes to your deliveries. A locking steel box anchored into concrete with a security camera built-in will certainly have any would-be mail thieves skipping past your home in search of easier grabs.
To sum it up, the most secure mailbox for packages is made of metal; is able to be anchored to the ground or a wall; provides a baffle, slot, or other mechanism that prevents unwanted hands from reaching in; and has a locking door for larger parcels. Other features, such as security camera integration and digital key codes, are nice extras to have for daily convenience and added theft deterrence. An investment in a secure mailbox can save you from losing a priceless package or prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft—an investment that’s well worth it!