We’ve all seen the doorbell videos: porch pirates cruising neighborhoods around the holidays, swiping boxes off of people’s properties.
And it’s not just confined to the holidays; packages sent via the United States Postal Service are stolen every day, creating a massive headache for both customers and the organization.
So what happens when a USPS package is stolen? Here is what you need to know.
What Happens When USPS Package Is Stolen In 2023?
When a USPS package is stolen, customers have the option to initiate a help request and/or a Missing Mail Search Request. In many cases the onus is on the shipper to replace or refund the stolen item. However, insured packages may receive compensation from USPS after a claim is filed and approved.
You should keep reading, because I am going to cover your options more in-depth when a package gets stolen, how long before a package is considered lost with USPS, if USPS insurance covers theft and some ways you can help prevent package theft.
What To Do When USPS Package Is Stolen?
First Things First
Whether you view it is a mild inconvenience or a full-blown nightmare, it’s an unsettling feeling when your USPS package gets stolen, and you’ll want to act quick.
Before you do anything else, re-check your USPS Tracking. If it doesn’t say “Delivered” yet, then your package hasn’t yet left USPS hands.
If it does say delivered, double-check to see if you wrote down any Delivery Instructions. Perhaps you forgot you told the mail carrier to hide the parcel under the porch?
If You Have Video
If that is not the case, those of you with surveillance – whether it’s stealthily placed cameras or a Ring doorbell – go to the tape.
If you can find the video proof that someone has stolen your package, you can use it to file a police report, which is what you should do next.
It also can’t hurt to alert your local Post Office; a rash of theft is bad for business, if people feel they can’t trust their packages in the hands of USPS.
If You Do Not Have Video
However, if you don’t have video proof, but you strongly suspect the package was stolen, all hope is not lost.
USPS.com has a Missing Mail and Lost Packages page, that can walk you through the steps of finding your package.
After checking USPS Tracking, you can complete a Help Request Form. This form is forwarded to your local sorting Post Office so they start looking for your package on their end.
If after seven business days you do not receive your package, you can then submit a Missing Mail Search Request.
This claim is a bit more in-depth, as it involves both sender and recipient mailing addresses, your Tracking info, identifying characteristics of the package and even images.
If your package has truly been stolen, then obviously these steps won’t help get it back.
But there is always the chance that the package has been waylaid and accidentally marked as delivered; if that is the case, then the above steps will be helpful in getting it to you.
If The Sender Insured The Package
If the USPS package was insured by the sender, and it was stolen, the sender may file an insurance claim.
Note that the sender, but not the recipient, may be reimbursed by USPS for the insurance amount.
The claim must be filed within 60 days of shipping. To learn more about filing an insurance claim, visit this page.
Also, Priority Mail Express comes with a money-back guarantee that the item will reach its destination within the next day or the next two days, by 6:00 p.m.
If the item (Express mail is only for letters and large envelopes) is not in the recipient’s hands by the guaranteed time, the sender can request their money back (that is, the shipping fee).
Does USPS Insurance Cover Theft?
According to USGlobalMail.com, “If you bought insurance, a USPS claim will cover the shipping costs and package value…for damaged or lost mail.”
Depending on the method used to ship, the waiting period before filing a claim differs, but in most cases, you have up to 60 days.
The waiting period is to ensure that the package wasn’t merely delayed, versus lost or stolen, so USPS isn’t paying any claims they don’t need to.
Who Is Responsible If Parcel Goes Missing?
In fact, the seller or shipper takes on the burden of responsibility for a refund or replacement when a package gets stolen or goes missing.
If you suspect or have proof of a stolen package, you should reach out to the seller immediately.
For small business owners, this is an instance where having package insurance can save everyone a lot of grief.
Can You Get A Refund For A Stolen USPS Package?
You can only get a refund for a stolen USPS package if you are the seller, and you purchased insurance on the parcel.
If you are the recipient and your package was stolen, USPS will not reimburse you for the loss.
Instead, the onus is on the seller to reimburse you or replace the item that was stolen.
I know, it seems terribly unfair, since it was no one’s fault really except the thief.
But the consensus is that, when an item is lost, damaged or stolen, the seller must make it right, not USPS – that’s just part of the price of doing business.
Do USPS Employees Steal?
Unfortunately, there are criminal elements in all walks of life and professions, including the United States Postal Service.
One of the most astonishing cases of package theft by USPS employees was in 2016 in California, where 33 people were charged.
One defendant in particular “was found to have had tens of thousands of pieces of mail in her possession,” as reported by the LA Times.
But these cases are sensational because they are not that common.
Is it possible that a USPS worker is the thief of your package? Yes. Is it likely? Probably not, as 43 percent of Americans reported that they had a package stolen off their porch.
That’s almost half of the population, which means porch pirates are the greater threat, not USPS employees.
How Can You Prevent Theft Of USPS Packages?
There are a lot of actions each of us can take to help ourselves and prevent theft of USPS packages.
Here is a list of ideas:
- Invest in a video doorbell. While this is far from the cheapest option, it could prove the most effective in providing definitive proof of porch theft.
- Use USPS Tracking and Informed Delivery to plan to be home when items are delivered.
- Use USPS’s awesome Delivery Instructions tool to direct the postal carrier to leave the package in a safe place.
- Request that your shipper add on the Signature Required service to your shipment.
With this service, the package must be handed to a responsible resident of the home and signed for, or else it’s taken back to the Post Office for retrieval.
You can also have them leave it with a neighbor or even take it back to the Post Office for you to retrieve.
This service is totally free; all you need is a USPS.com account. More people should be taking advantage of Delivery Instructions!
To know more, you can also read our posts on USPS delivery instructions, if USPS updates tracking, and if USPS delivers to door.
Theft of USPS packages is a headache, but the organization has a robust system for searching out missing parcels when theft hasn’t been caught on camera.
To that end, the seller is almost always responsible for refunds or replacements, unless they purchased insurance on the package.
Finally, all of us can take steps to help prevent package theft at our own residences, some of which, like USPS Delivery Instructions, are totally free of charge.