Many boxes are piled up in the back of a truck.

For The Holidays, Photographers Should Watch For… Package Theft

News | By Stephan Jukic | December 8, 2023

The Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Holidays may be wonderful and popular times for buying lots of new gear, but thieves know that too.

This has created a marked uptick in package thefts from shipped packages that the Better Business Bureau in the United States has described as being at an “all-time high”.

If you’re taking advantage of holiday discounts and offers to buy a shiny and probably pricey new lens, camera or other compact piece of easily stolen gear, you might want to take note too.

Examples abound, including cases in which victims’ doorbell cameras catch thieves simply walking up to their front door, replacing delivered packages with empty boxes and simply walking away.

This is something that can and has affected buyers of all kinds of products, but in the case of photographer purchases, the target items are especially tempting for obvious reasons.

Cameras, lenses and other photo or video-related pieces of gear are often compact, relatively light, easy to grab and easy to identify by their package labels. They’re also easy to resell either online or on social media marketplaces for high prices.

As one Wisconsin Better Business Bureau staffer, Lisa Schiller explained recently, “It’s at an all-time high. That’s a huge problem, very big concern. This is the month that we are going to have more package deliveries than ever, so it’s an opportune time for criminals.”

Photographers can however take basic precautions that include ordering items and requesting that they only be delivered if someone with proper ID or even a security code can accept them, or if not, made available for later pickup.

Personally receiving packages from couriers or even picking them up right inside an Amazon Hub center sometimes also doesn’t guarantee theft won’t happen.

As we covered in early 2023, there have even been cases of camera and lens buyers spending thousands on new equipment only to receive apparently full packages, directly from couriers or in person at a fulfillment center and later discover that their boxes were loaded with junk.

Examples included one buyer who received a package of cat food and another who opened his package expecting a camera only to find a package of surgical gloves.

These buyers all signed for their deliveries before checking since the packages felt like they had the correct weight and dimensions.

The BBC even reported in early 2023 about a particularly absurd case in which a buyer, already burned by package theft and product replacement, was especially careful. He opened his delivery right inside an Amazon Hub center, right where a facility surveillance camera was watching.

A building with an amazon sign on it.

The individual in question did this to avoid any possible dispute if the package ended up not containing the Panasonic camera-lens combo he’d ordered.

The package indeed ended up containing a pair of shoes instead, but despite the overwhelming evidence of fraud against the buyer, the online retail giant refused to refund his purchase.

It’s worth noting that none of the above means you should become paranoid about using the convenience of online ordering.  Package theft isn’t hard to avoid with basic precautions and the vast majority of opportunities for casual thieves are easy to thwart.

Even cases like the latter examples described above in which buyers had the contents of their orders replaced along the delivery chain itself are extremely rare if you buy from well-rated sellers.

However, with the holiday season here and record annual order volumes flowing to homes all over the world, don’t forget to be careful.

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