- Official statistics on theft are vastly underreported in America
- Nebraskans are most likely to report porch piracy on Twitter (115 tweets per 100,000 residents)
- Mississippi has the lowest rate of porch piracy complaints on Twitter (8.9 tweets per 100,000 residents)
- Among cities, Washington, D.C. has the most tweets about porch piracy per capita (193.3 tweets per 100,000 people)
- El Paso, TX has the fewest porch piracy tweets per capita than any other city (7.4 per 100,000 inhabitants)
- Based on Twitter reports, porch piracy peaks around the holidays with 29% of tweets about it posted in November and December
Package theft, also known as “porch piracy,” is a growing problem in the United States. According to a 2022 survey by Security.org, a home security product review site, some 54% of Americans claim to have had at least one package stolen this year, up from 40% in 2021.
While it appears to be a growing problem, official crime statistics on package theft remain scarce. Counts of larceny-theft (which porch piracy falls under) are down 30% since 2021, and report volume has been falling for years. In fact, only about 26% of all non-auto thefts in America are reported to the police.
However, there is one place where piracy reports aren’t down: social media sites. Twitter in particular is awash with porch piracy claims.
In lieu of official statistics on package theft, we analyzed 100,000+ tweets from the last year, to learn more about porch piracy across the nation.
Least Safe in Nebraska, Most Secure in Mississippi– States by Package Theft Tweets
Of all U.S. states, Nebraska had the highest number of tweets mentioning “package theft”, “porch pirates”, or “stolen package,” with 115 such tweets per 100,000 residents.
Colorado and New York are second and third by this metric, with each state seeing between 50 and 60 tweets related to package theft per 100,000 inhabitants.
On the opposite side of the scale, Mississippi is least likely to report porch piracy on Twitter, with 8.9 tweets per 100,000 people living in the state.
Joining it in the lower rungs are New Jersey, Hawaii, Maine, and New Hampshire, where the rate of Twitter complaints about porch piracy is around 14 tweets per 100,000 people.
Dangerous in D.C. – U.S. Capital Sees Most Package Theft Tweets per Capita
From our analysis of Twitter data, the U.S. capital of porch piracy is, well, the U.S. capital.
The highest rate of complaints about package theft on Twitter occurred in Washington, D.C., peaking at 193 unique tweets per 100,000 residents.
“…54% of Americans claim to have had at least one package stolen this year, up from 40% in 2021.”
Two other cities where the rate spills over 100 tweets per 100,000 residents are Atlanta (178.3) and Seattle (133.8).
Meanwhile, Denver, a city whose metro area is often ranked among the worst for package theft based on a mixture of local theft statistics and Google Trends data, is fifth in our ranking; Denver unleased 92.9 tweets about package theft per 100,000 residents this year.
On the other end of the spectrum, El Paso, TX is the city where package theft is least rampant (according to Twitter, at least). Just 7.4 complaints were posted on Twitter per 100,000 residents in this Texan city, making it the only city with a rate below 10.
The second safest city by the same measure is Jacksonville, FL, where porch piracy is reported on Twitter at a rate of 10.2 tweets per 100,000 residents.
It’s worth noting two other Texan cities are in the 10 safest cities list: Arlington, TX (15) and Fort Worth, TX (13.9). Perhaps this is not a coincidence, as back in 2019, Texas was the first state to pass legislation enacting harsher punishments for porch piracy.
Holiday Season Is When Package Theft Peaks, Based on Tweets
If we look at the officially reported incidences of generalized larceny theft (the category of crime that package theft is filed under) over the last year, it looks roughly like this.
But again, not all larceny is package theft, and not all package theft is reported. Yet the generalized common knowledge is that property crime peaks in the summer and peters out by year’s end.
That is not, however, the story with package theft … at least as reported on social media.
While police reports tend to decrease toward the holiday season, tweets about package theft go the opposite way — they go up, and significantly so. As many as 29% of all tweets about porch piracy in America are posted in November and December.
Incidentally (though we’re not implying causation here), e-commerce sales also go up in November and December. Averaged data from the monthly non-store retail trade last decade shows that the last two months of the year see higher sales than any other months.
Fend off the Pirates: What Can You Do to Protect Your Packages?
Installing a security camera or getting a doorbell with one is certainly one way you can try and combat porch piracy where you live. However, even if you were to capture a thief in the act, that video will be statistically unlikely to be helpful to the police.
“While police reports tend to decrease toward the holiday season, tweets about package theft go the opposite way … as many as 29% of all tweets about porch piracy in America are posted in November and December.”
Instead, consider the following tips. When ordering something online to be delivered to your home, you can send your package to work where you can pick it up, or leave a permanent note to all delivery drivers to leave your parcel out of sight.
To get more in the weeds about keeping your packages out of thieves’ hands, read our recent article on package safety.
To see the figures for all cities, for which we found enough tweets, check out our interactive table below:
Sources and Methodology
A sample of tweets containing related keywords such as “package theft”, “porch pirate”, and “stolen package” was collected using Twitter API spanning the last 12 months. Using either the tweet’s geotag or the location of the user who posted it, around 100,000 tweets were referenced to locations in the United States. Duplicate tweets were removed. Replies and retweets were excluded.
Population figures for cities and states were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. Larceny counts were taken from FBI’s Crime Data Explorer. Monthly e-commerce sales figures were estimated using Monthly Retail Trade Report produced by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Illustrations by Heather Vaughan