We tested a device that is supposed to stop porch pirates — here's what we found

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Another shipping season is here, without an answer to stopping porch pirates.

"I wish I had the answer to that,” Paul Swoboda, a longtime United States Postal Service employee said. “I guess just tell people to quit being bad!”

The good news is, there are better options to keep thieves away.

One could be a new gadget just released this summer: BoxLock. You use it to lock a parcel box, sold separately, and delivery drivers are supposed to be able to scan the barcode on your package to unlock it.

LISTEN: 41 Files podcast breaks down best secure delivery options

“Amazon uses different carriers, and you probably order things from different places than Amazon," BoxLock founder Brad Ruffkess said. “So with Boxlock, we work with USPS, UPS, FedEx, and Amazon, and so we're able to secure your deliveries, regardless of who's delivering them."

Ruffkess appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in October 2018. He left without a deal because the investors questioned if homeowners and delivery drivers would understand how to use the product.

We tested BoxLock on the front porch of a home. The first delivery ended up on the other side of the porch, and the second ended up behind the parcel box.

“There's a little bit of setup involved, and you have to make sure that's done right,” Ruffkess said. “You've got to make sure that you go ahead and sign up and give your instructions to the carriers for UPS My Choice, FedEx Delivery Manager, and USPS Informed Delivery, and put the delivery instructions in Amazon.”

What about getting your package delivered inside your home? Amazon Key offers in-home delivery, where customers are notified a delivery is about to happen, and then are able to watch the delivery person enter their home, on a camera linked to their phone.

The service, which costs more than $250, is not available nationwide yet, but it is available in the Kansas City area on both sides of the state line.

 

Back to BoxLock for try number three: After creating online accounts with UPS, FedEx, and USPS, the package ended up on top of the parcel box.

On try number four, we actually spoke to the Amazon delivery driver while he was examining the BoxLock. He told us that he hadn’t seen or heard of the product.

So 41 Action News employee Mike Wang tried out another delivery option for us: in-car delivery from Amazon.

“They have a description of my car in the app,” Wang said. “They have my license plate number.”

Wang actually recorded the delivery to his car from the roof of the 41 Action News building. In the video, you can see the delivery driver unlock Wang’s vehicle, put the package in the rear driver-side seat, close the door, and relock the car.

“At first you might be concerned that somebody's actually in your car,” Wang said. “But when you consider the alternative at home is to leave it on your front doorstep, and somebody can take it if they want to.”

Not every vehicle works with this service. You can check your eligibility on the Amazon website.

There are also three Amazon locker locations in the Kansas City area, one at each of the Whole Foods locations. When checking out online, choose this option, get a code, then type it in the locker keypad to retrieve your package

Finally, we tried one more time with BoxLock, even taping laminated instructions to the box.

The package still ended up unprotected on the front porch.

41 Action News reached out to BoxLock to ask about the 0-for-5 record. The founder told us that our experience is not typical, but that it does take some users some time to get accounts set up correctly.

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