The ‘hood, being an inner-city sorta place, enjoys intermittent infestations of mail thieves and porch pirates. Here at the Funny Farm, we got the mail theft pretty well under control by installing a monster, fortified locking mailbox out at the curb. Keeping opportunistic thieves from walking off with Amazon deliveries is another matter, though.
No chance I’m giving some random Amazon driver a key to open the front door and drop a package into a “locker” inside. As for the locker you drive to…well…
a) Having to drive somewhere to pick up an Amazon delivery defeats the purpose of ordering things to be delivered. If you have to get in your car and do battle with Phoenix’s homicidal traffic, you might as well go to a brick-and-mortar store and give your money to a local business.
b) Even if that made sense (it doesn’t), the nearest “locker” sites are in places where I wouldn’t get out of my car on a bet. One is at the QT at the corner of Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way, the area’s worst offender as a gathering site for panhandlers, addicts, and petty thieves. The other is another QT on the other side of the freeway, also in a bad area renowned for shootings and redolent with panhandlers.
So, if you live in these parts and you’re gonna order from Amazon, you’ll have to put up with their drivers dropping packages in front of your house.
In theory, the Amazon guys are supposed to ring your doorbell. But they don’t. They come into the courtyard (which is walled and has iron gates) and leave the packages in there. That’s a whole lot better than leaving them propped against a front door or the garage door. But it’s not 100%.
Our porch pirates are bold as Arizona’s summer sunshine. A couple of residents have captured clear and highly entertaining videos of these folks in action. One woman drives down the street at a conspicuously slow speed, searching for packages left in front. When she spots one, she parks in front of the house, saunters up to the door, picks the thing up, strolls back to her car and putters on down the road. She’s clearly stopping at every house where she can see a package from the street.
Well, the past two or three weeks, I’ve repeatedly found the courtyard gate standing wide open.
I’ve thought it was one of Gerardo’s guys carelessly leaving it open.
Thought it was me, not getting the gate latched well enough.
Thought it was a bum looking to sleep inside the walls.
Nope. Nope. And nope.
Last time it happened, I knew someone had entered the courtyard and left the gate hanging open because when I back my car into the garage, I gauge the distance between the left side of the car and the house by watching the courtyard’s wall as the car slides past it. If yesterday the gate had been hanging wide open — as it was this morning — I would have spotted it yesterday afternoon when I came in.
So, yeah. What we have here is a recurrent visitor.
Undoubtedly checking every few days to see if anything has been left.
This is irresistible.
What should I have in my computer but a JPG of a return label for UPS, to be pasted on a package I returned the other day.
And how hard would it be to print out another copy of it? After jimmying the return address to insert a fake name and address, of course.
A-n-n-d…who doesn’t have a handy small cardboard box from Amazon laying around?
What could an average household offer as a gift to a porch pirate?
• An empty box, maybe, filled with wadded tissue paper?
• How about a rock, wrapped with said fine tissue paper?
• Maybe a mousetrap, set to snap shut on opening?
• Rat trap, the better to break a finger?
• Dog shit, perhaps, of which we have a plethora?
I found it’s pretty easy to mock up a fake UPS return label, if you’ve already returned a package to Amazon. They email the label to you; you have to download it, cut it out of the paper, and stick it on the package.
So: Open the file. Crop the image to leave only the return address data. Import the image into a Word file. Set your font to Arial 14 points and type in a fake name and address where the real one would appear on a real label. Use a text box to put this in place if necessary.
Piece of cake. This will complicate life for the pirate who wishes revenge — with any luck she’ll steal several packages and won’t remember where yours came from. If she doesn’t, a fake address will send her astray. Make it a fake street, so she won’t visit someone else’s home. “Erewhon Lane” works well — people who don’t read literature won’t recognize the anagram for “Nowhere.”
Load the box with whatever gift you wish to give the thief. Include a message, if desired. Carefully seal it up with clear packing tape and the fake label. Leave it out on the front step for the porch pirate to pick up.
LOL! Load, lock, and leave!