Opportunistic thieves are stealing goods potentially worth hundreds of pounds at a time after spotting boxes dropped off at homes by couriers during the day when their recipients aren't in.

The UK’s parcel theft problem is getting worse according to new figures, and ‘porch pirates’ could cause further problems with Black Friday and Christmas coming up, according to technology company Quadient.

Data obtained through freedom of information requests sent to Lancashire Police revealed there have been multiple reports of parcel theft in Lancashire this year.

Earlier this year, a Burnley thief was caught on a doorbell camera stealing a parcel for a woman’s assistance dog from the doorstep of a property, highlighting the problem.

Lancashire Police figures showed there were 572 reports of parcel thefts, from August 2022 to July 2023.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: “This type of crime targets hard-working members of our communities and is something we take seriously, especially in the run-up to Christmas when more people are likely to be having parcels delivered.

“We all want our homes to be safe places – and all of our parcels to still be safely under the tree by Christmas morning – and by taking a few simple steps you can reduce your risk of falling prey to this type of crime.

“This includes choosing named day delivery or tracking your parcel to ensure you’re home when it arrives, installing a doorbell camera, installing a security light, arranging for a parcel to be delivered to a neighbour or nearby relative instead, or using an off-site locker or local convenience store for deliveries.

"If none of these are options, request that the parcel is left somewhere out of sight to deter opportunist thieves who may simply be passing."

Nationally, one in 10 households reported the loss of a package last year, with this kind of theft rising by 57 per cent, and the average reported value of a stolen parcel is £66.50.

Given 11 per cent of UK households reported a parcel theft in the last year, the data suggests £206 million in goods have been stolen from doorsteps.

Katia Bourgeais-Crémel, from Quadient, said: “The plague of porch piracy has intensified during the cost-of-living crisis, with nationwide parcel theft increasing more than 500 per cent since 2019.

"Unattended items on doorsteps are just waiting to be stolen.

“The number reported to the police could have increased in part due to better awareness of the importance of reporting.

"However, when you consider more than one in 10 households had a parcel stolen last year, porch piracy is clearly a big problem for businesses and consumers across the UK.

"This is leaving retailers and couriers spending time and money replacing stolen deliveries and adding strain to customer services.

"In households that do their Christmas shopping online, retailers’ brand perception could take a serious knock if people are left without a present to unwrap on Christmas morning.”

Most reports made to the police about parcel theft are made in December, 15 per cent of the annual total, and November with 12 per cent.

The data also shows parcel theft is most likely to occur between 9am and 5pm, and 22 to 34-year-olds filed the most reports to the police. 

Ms Bourgeais-Crémel added: “Police shouldn’t be expected to stem the tide of parcel theft on their own, and consumers shouldn’t be forced to strike out alone and protect themselves.

"Consumers need more secure and convenient options for parcel delivery. Blanket 9am to 5pm deliveries, or being forced to pick up items during specific building opening hours, doesn’t work for anyone.

"Retailers, delivery companies and local authorities need to step up and work together to create a network of pick-up and drop-off locations people can use 24/7.

“Parcel lockers form an essential part of this network. Lockers not only cut the risk of parcels being stolen, but also give consumers an easy way to collect parcels and a safe way to manage their returns.

"Lockers also protect retailers and delivery companies from the costs of refunding customers for stolen items or sending replacements, and reduce the need for redeliveries, which in turn keeps unnecessary traffic away from local roads.

"Introducing lockers gives local governments a way to provide better amenities to citizens, reduce crime in the local area and cut the number of delivery vehicles on roads.

"Finally, police forces will see a reduction in parcel theft, allowing them to direct resources elsewhere.”