Community Smart Lockers: Solving Package Theft


Logistics innovations

As you might imagine, many packages are lost to theft every year. Unfortunately, the number of stolen packages has increased tenfold since 2015, when the recorded stolen packages were a mere 1.7 million in the United States. The rise of online shopping has led to a corresponding spike in package theft, which has led to a need to solve this problem.

Parcel Theft at an All-Time High

According to the U.S. Postal Service’s 2018 Consumer Experience Survey, 26 million packages are stolen or go missing every year. 

Suppose you are worried about the contents of your parcel being stolen. If you are, you’re not alone. A 2018 Shorr Packaging/ORC International Consumer Survey found that 41% of people were concerned about package theft and would actively take steps to prevent it. Additionally, another survey conducted a year earlier by the same research team concluded that 40% of consumers had fallen victim to having at least one package stolen from their front porch, with 13% stating they had experienced a theft more than once.

As more people shop online and the number of packages delivered per day increases, the theft numbers will keep increasing. According to Shorr, the trend estimates that one out of five (20%) deliveries are considered at risk of theft. Considering we are only aware of reported thefts, the actual number of thefts is likely much more staggering.  

Who Thieves Target

Have you ever gone to retrieve a UPS or FedEx package you left on your porch, only to find the empty box later in the day? You are a part of the 50% of Americans who have lost packages to theft if you have. Unfortunately, statistics do not break down theft by resident type. However, demographic data provided by the USPS does provide some insight as to who may be targeted the most:

  • 60% of victims were male.
  • 49% of victims were Millennials.
  • 63% earn between $60k and $100k per year.
  • 24% of Baby Boomers have had a package stolen.

While some package thefts occur before arriving at their destination, reports show that 67% of all stolen packages are taken from the delivery destination. Since 2/3rds of all thefts occur at the destination address, it means there are steps you can take to protect them.

Concept: The Community Smart Locker

The concept of communal mail locations is not new. For example, the USPS has addressed lockers at most post offices. In addition, many gated communities have centralized USPS mail hubs. And apartment and condominium complexes have mailrooms. However, mailboxes may only accept deliveries from the USPS. This means courier deliveries from UPS, FedEx, DHL and others must be dropped off in front of the home, apartment, or office door.

Smart Lockers offer a viable solution for courier package deliveries with the latest technology, including cloud computing and APIs (application programming interfaces). A Smart Parcel Locker is an electronic locker with an onboard host computer connected to the cloud and a set of parcel slots. Couriers with deliveries select their company from the host computer touch screen, scan their parcel’s barcode, and choose an appropriate slot size. Then, a slot door automatically opens, and the courier deposits the parcel and closes the slot door.

Photo of a ParcelPort residential smart lockerSmart Locker in a communal mail room

Smart Lockers are built from the highest quality steel with reinforced hinges and industrial-grade doors; Smart Lockers keep packages safe. Once a package deposit is made, the resident receives a scannable code to retrieve their package when time is convenient for them.

There has been an explosion of Smart Locker installations inside condominium buildings. The adoption of Smart Lockers for residential communities or urban centers is about to take root. Centralizing package deliveries would reduce package theft and reduce the carbon footprint of last-mile delivery and congestion on our roads. Strategically placed community Smart Lockers are indeed a win-win-win solution.

Making Smart Lockers Worth It

A community Smart Locker does not come without capital investment and ongoing maintenance costs. Therefore, communities may want to consider generating revenue to offset some of the costs.

  • Late fees: It is essential packages are picked up promptly. Many Smart Lockers in condominium and apartment buildings will charge a late fee if a package is not retrieved within a disclosed time period. The most common pickup window is 72 hours, but communities may use their discretion.
  • Advertising: Smart lockers bring a variety of ways to generate advertising revenue. The host computer screen can display flash ads, text or email receipts can promote local businesses, advertising display screens can be mounted above the locker, and the locker itself can be wrapped in a branded paint scheme.
  • Peer Exchange: Community Smart Lockers may also be used as a central location to exchange items with someone else. Residents, for a fee, can deposit books, video games, and other items into a Smart Locker to be retrieved by someone else at a later date or time.

The concept of community Smart Lockers is turning into a reality. In addition to reducing package theft, residents are seeing the positive environmental impact Smart Lockers can have on the local environment.

To learn more about how your organization can maximize smart lockers to reduce cost, increase revenue, and delight your customers, contact the ParcelPort team online by visiting, email at or calling 1-800-818-0870.


Michael Trueman