Parcel thefts rise from doorsteps as gangs follow courier vans

Nearly half of households receiving Christmas deliveries from online retailers have seen them go wrong, a survey suggests, as customers revealed that parcels were being thrown over fences, left in the rain or taken by binmen.

The number of parcels stolen from front gardens and porches has risen as criminals start following delivery vans.

Freedom of information requests to police forces show that thefts rose by 287 per cent between 2019 and last year. The average package is worth £115.

There is dissatisfaction among the public at internet shopping as standards fall and retailers withdraw free delivery options. More than a third of households surveyed for a report by Quadient, a mailing equipment company, said they had received “sorry you were out” cards when they were at home and nearly half say click-and-collect services are too frustrating.

The research found that in 2019 only 2,700 parcel thefts were reported to the police but by last year, that had grown to nearly 10,500. However, Citizens Advice estimates that 5.5 million packages are stolen each year.

Ian Caminsky, of Quadient, said he believed parcel theft was becoming an organised rather than opportunistic crime.

He said: “Parcel theft is a growing issue in the UK. In the US, there is a huge problem with ‘porch pirates’ following delivery trucks around neighbourhoods and stealing parcels, and the police figures indicate criminals in Britain are increasingly recognising the same lucrative opportunity.”

He added: “Police forces themselves have stated that the number of reported incidents is just the tip of the iceberg; when parcels go missing, many people will often contact retailers and couriers rather than the police.”

Separate data from Metapack, the delivery logistics firm, shows that the number of claims for missing parcels jumped by 59 per cent in the year to June compared with the previous 12 months. Metapack has a league table of the best and worst-performing couriers for missing parcels but does not share the data because “it’s pretty explosive”.