USPS Stolen Package

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November 20, 2023

According to a Consumer Reports survey in September 2021, 11% of Americans have had at least one package stolen from their home the previous year. Among that group, 64% had a delivery stolen at least twice.

A parcel stolen from your doorstep can be troublesome, especially when your package’s contents are highly valued. Fortunately, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has a few services to help you file a claim when your item goes missing.

What can you do when your package gets stolen from your porch after delivery? How do you file a stolen package claim with USPS? Can you appeal if the Postal Service denies your claim?

This article discusses the steps to take when you suspect your package is stolen and what to do after filing a claim. This article also explains what you can do to help prevent or minimize the incidents of porch piracy.

Do you need to visit a U.S. Postal Service location to file a stolen package claim? FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool can help you search for a post office near you.

What Happens When Your USPS Package Is Stolen?

When your USPS package gets stolen, you can initiate a help request, a missing mail search request, or both.

If you are the shipper, replacing or refunding the stolen item is usually your responsibility. But if you insure your packages, you may receive compensation from USPS after a claim is filed and approved.

USPS Stolen Package: What to Do

Whether or not you have had a package stolen, getting your item back or claiming a refund can be a hassle, especially if you do not know what to do. The following sections can guide you on what steps you can take if your parcel gets stolen.

Check With Neighbors

Sometimes, delivery drivers leave your parcel with neighbors if they think your porch exposes it to thieves. If you expect a delivery but do not see your item at your front door, ask your neighbor if they received a package in your name.

If your package is not with your neighbors, you can move to the next step: contact the sender.

Contact the Sender

If you believe someone stole your package, contact the retailer who sold you the item to inform them you did not receive the parcel.

Depending on the retailer’s policies for handling stolen packages, they can send you a replacement or refund your payment.

Suppose the retailer does not want to compensate you for your lost purchase. Hold any proof supporting your claim in this case and follow the next step.

Contact USPS

If the retailer cannot replace or refund your purchase, contact USPS to inform the company about your lost item. There are two ways to perform this step, depending on whether your missing package is insured.

If your item is uninsured, you can only do a missing mail search. This search instructs USPS to search its facilities and trucks for your package. 

To perform this search, do the following steps:

  • Enter your parcel’s tracking number on the USPS website to see the mailing date in the tracking information.
  • Set up an account on MissingMail.USPS.com if you do not have one. Enter the tracking number, mail date, sender’s address, receiver’s address, and your package’s description, such as the item’s size, color, shape, and proof of the content’s worth.

USPS will search its facilities to determine if your package was delivered and send you periodic updates regarding its status. Should USPS find your parcel, the company will notify you and forward the item to the address you provide.

If the package is damaged, USPS can decide not to forward your parcel. If USPS cannot find your package, the company will consider it stolen, and you may file a claim for any losses.

Homeowners Insurance Claim

If you have renters or homeowners insurance, it may cover stolen packages.

Most homeowners insurance deductibles are around $1,000, which may not cover a typical stolen package. In addition, filing a claim may increase your premiums if your item is worth more than your deductible.

Credit Card Purchase Protection

Purchase protection is short-term insurance for everyday credit card transactions in case of theft or damage. The coverage has several exclusions, so check if your card’s provider offers extended warranty coverage.

Purchase protection can help reimburse your purchase after you notify the card issuer that an item you bought using the credit card was damaged or stolen.

Some companies may not cover high-value items or require you to file a police report. Others may implement purchase protection only after you use primary coverage, like homeowners insurance. 

Check your credit card provider’s website to determine if you can file a claim with this coverage.

File a Police Report

In addition to making a USPS claim for a stolen package, you can also file a police report, especially in states where stealing USPS packages is a punishable offense.

In Michigan, package theft on the second violation is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Meanwhile, package theft in Arkansas is a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to six years.

You may be unable to do much if there are no witnesses. But if your neighbors file similar reports, the police may initiate an investigation.

Watch Out for Post-pandemic Porch Pirates

The COVID-19 pandemic that swept across the country may have increased the incidence of package theft as many people were forced to use online shopping.

Even as the pandemic winds down, maintain diligence by securing your package and preventing porch pirates from taking your parcel. Some tips to do so are as follows:

  • Track your package.
  • Consider picking up your package after getting a delivery notice.
  • Use delivery lockers if you can.
  • Invest in a doorbell camera or security camera that provides motion alerts.

Check the Current Status

There may be situations when your mail gets delayed in reaching its destination. If your mail or package has tracking, check USPS Tracking to see your item’s delivery status.

You can also register for Informed Delivery, a free USPS service that provides you with a preview of your incoming mail.

Complete a Help Request Form

Before starting a missing mail search, you can complete an online help request form on the USPS website. Upon submitting this form, USPS will forward this request to your local post office to help locate your missing items.

Submit a Missing Mail Search Request

Suppose your package or mail has not arrived seven business days after submitting your online help request form. You can submit a missing mail search request containing the following information:

  • Sender’s mailing address
  • Recipient’s mailing address
  • Size and type of your envelope or container
  • Identifying information, such as the mailing date on your receipt, your USPS tracking number, or the Click-N-Ship label receipt
  • Content’s description, such as what kind of item, brand, model, size, or color
  • Pictures to help USPS recognize the item

Requesting a Refund

You can request a refund if you ship a package using a USPS service with a money-back guarantee. These services include Priority Mail Express, Ground Advantage, Priority Mail, and Media Mail.

File a USPS Claim

If your parcel has insurance, you may file an insurance claim if your item becomes stolen, damaged, or missing.

USPS recommends filing a claim for damaged or missing contents no later than 60 days from the mailing date.

How to File a USPS Claim

Whether you are the sender or recipient, you can file a claim for insured mail that is lost, damaged, or has missing contents. You must have the original mailing receipt, file each claim within a specific period, and include proof of insurance, damage, and value.

Step 1: Check Filing Periods

USPS mail services have different filing periods based on your receipt’s mailing date and whether your package arrives damaged.

Damaged or Missing Contents

You can immediately file a claim if your package has missing contents or arrives damaged. However, you must file not over 60 days after the parcel’s mailing date.

Lost Mail or Package

If your mail or package does not arrive due to it getting lost, file a claim within the period for the mailing service you used.

Filing a Claim for Lost Packages or Mail

When filing a claim, you must do so within a specific period, depending on your mailing service. The table below lists the filing periods for each of these services:

ServiceFile afterFile before
Priority Mail Express7 days60 days
Collect on delivery (COD)15 days60 days
Priority Mail15 days60 days
Insured Mail15 days60 days
Priority Mail Express COD15 days60 days
Registered Mail and Registered COD Mail15 days60 days
Army or Air Force Post Office (APO) or Fleet Post Office (FPO) Priority Mail Express Military service21 days180 days
APO, FPO, or Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) Insured Mail, Registered Mail (First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, USPS Ground Advantage, Space Available Mail (SAM), or Parcel Airlift (PAL) mail services)45 days1 year
APO, FPO, or DPO Insured Mail (surface only)75 days1 year

Step 2: Gather Your Documents

When filing, include the proper documentation to help USPS approve your claim quickly. Furthermore, save all your evidence documents until the company resolves your claim.

The following sections discuss these documents.

Tracking or Label Number

Your parcel’s label or tracking number is on your package label, mailing receipt, online label record, or sales receipt. Tracking and label numbers have 13 to 34 characters.

Evidence of Insurance Purchased

You can use the following items as insurance evidence:

  • Original receipt at mailing time
  • Outer packaging containing the recipient and sender’s names and addresses and the proper label showing that the article is insured
  • Printed online label record or computer printout from the application used to print the label

Proof of Value

Proof of value is the cost or value of an item upon mailing. You can use any of the following to show proof of value:

  • Sales receipt
  • Paid bill of sale or invoice
  • Credit card billing statement
  • Statement of value, repair cost estimates from a reputable dealer, or both
  • Receipt of costs incurred from reconstructing nonnegotiable documents
  • Online transaction printouts identifying the seller, purchaser, transaction date, item description, price paid, and assurance of completed transaction

Proof of Damage

Evidence of damage, such as photos showing the extent of damage, can help with your case. Filing damage claims requires a repair cost estimate from a reputable provider.

Some reminders when providing proof of damage are as follows:

  • Save your item’s original packaging and everything in the package until the settlement of the claim.
  • Do not throw damaged items, even after photographing them.
  • Do not reship undamaged items. Instead, save them with the damaged items.
  • Take the whole package to your local post office facility for inspection if needed.

Step 3: File Your Claim

One of the quickest and easiest ways to file your claim is by doing so online via USPS.com. Alternatively, you can also start a claim process by mail.

Remember to secure all your evidence documents until after settling the claim.

Filing Online

Log in to your USPS.com account or sign up for a free account to file a claim online. Your claim case will appear under your account.

If you cannot complete the online claim form in one session, save your progress to finish later. After filing your claim, you can see it in your account’s claim history.

Filing by Mail

If you cannot file a claim online, call the USPS National Materials Customer Service and request a domestic claim form.

After completing the form, mail it with the evidence of insurance and proof of value to the address on the form.

How to File an Insurance Claim or Refund

You can file for a refund if you send a parcel using Priority Mail Express service. Otherwise, file an insurance claim if you insured your mail or package.

USPS typically makes claim decisions in 5 to 10 days. However, you must submit your claim within 60 days of the shipping date.

After You File: Next Steps

USPS has an accounting service that determines whether the company should pay a claim in whole or in part or outright deny a claim. The following sections discuss the process claims undergo after USPS makes a decision.

Claims Decisions

Claim processing times usually depend on whether you have a lost or damaged item.

USPS typically processes claims for damaged items more quickly than claims for lost mail.

One possible reason lost mail claims take longer is that USPS performs a missing mail search before processing such claims.

Approved Claims

USPS can fully or partially approve your claim, depending on the company’s investigation. After approving your claim, USPS should send the payment to your account within 7 to 10 business days.

USPS does not pay claims exceeding your package’s actual value.

Denied Claims

USPS can partially or fully deny your claims. Your decision letter will contain the reasons for the denial.

Making an Appeal

Whether USPS partially pays or entirely denies your refund, you can file an appeal within 30 days of receiving the company’s decision.

First Appeal

To file an appeal, submit it like you filed the original claim, whether by mail or online.

When writing your appeal, focus on the reasons USPS denied your claim. Afterward, submit new documentation supporting your appeal.

Final Appeal

If USPS still denies your appeal, you can file a second one within 30 days of receiving the denial. Follow the same process for filing your final appeal as the first one.

Report Mail Theft

Sometimes, postal workers leave mail unattended at your doorstep, increasing the risk of theft. 

Mail theft occurs when someone wrongfully takes your mail from your mailbox, the post office, a collection box, or an authorized depository.

If you suspect someone to have stolen your mail or package, follow the steps below.

Packages With Tracking

To submit a report for package theft with a tracking number, select “Where is my package?” on the domestic tracking email page to complete the form.

Letter Mail and Packages Without Tracking

To submit a report for mail or package theft without a tracking number, go to the daily mail delivery email page to complete the form.

Personal Mailbox Vandalism

Mailboxes are federal property and, thus, covered by federal law. Mailbox vandalism is a crime that involves injuring, defacing, or destroying mail deposited in the mailbox.

In some places like Moreno Valley, California, violators can be imprisoned for up to three years or fined up to $250,000 per vandalism act.

You can report the incident as discussed in the subtopics below if you have a vandalized personal mailbox.

No Evidence of Mail Theft

If you suspect mail theft but have no evidence, do the following steps:

  • Notify your local law enforcement.
  • Whenever possible, place your mail on hold until you can replace or repair your mailbox.
  • Contact your local post office for further assistance.

Evidence of Mail Theft

If you have proof of the mail theft, perform the following steps:

  • Report the incident to your local police.
  • If possible, request to place your mail on hold until you repair or replace your mailbox.
  • Report a mail theft to USPS by following the mail theft reporting instructions, as discussed in the previous section.

USPS Claim Details

If you insure your delivery, USPS’s claim process will cover the package value and shipping costs up to the specified amount.

Suppose a missing mail search determines a lost or damaged delivery, but you do not have insurance. In that case, your claim can help cover the shipping costs.

Missing Mail by USPS

Whenever you suspect a package is lost or stolen, the first step is to begin a missing mail search. USPS will start searching their sort facilities and trucks to try and find your delivery.

If your package contained prohibited items that should not be shipped, such as drugs, perishables, hazardous materials, or handguns, you cannot start a missing mail search.

How to Complete the USPS Help Request Form

The following steps should guide you through the process of filling out the USPS help request form:

  • Visit the help request form page on the USPS website.
  • Fill out the requested information, including your item’s tracking number.
  • Fill out the needed fields in the pop-up window. These fields include the USPS service and the mail class, type, contents, value, and other information.
  • Click “Next” after completing the fields.
  • Fill out the sender and recipient’s name and address and select “Next.”
  • On the next page, fill out your name and address, whether you are the receiver or shipper.
  • Choose the way you would like USPS to contact you.
  • Click “Finish” to submit the request. USPS will forward your request to the local post office.

How to Start a Missing Mail Search

Before performing the missing mail search, check your tracking number and double-check your package’s status. You should be able to initiate this search seven days after sending your items.

To search, you must have the sender and receiver’s mailing address, tracking number, mailing date, and the size and type of the parcel’s envelope or box. These content descriptions can help identify the missing mail and assist in obtaining a refund for your lost or damaged items.

Congratulations, You Filed Your Claim. What’s Next?

If USPS proves it has delivered your package, you can no longer file a claim with them because they fulfilled their part in the delivery process.

In such cases, it is likely that you are a victim of package theft. You can file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to help investigate mail theft.

What You Can Do to Help Prevent Package Theft (or Track Down Those Porch Pirates)?

Although you cannot always catch porch pirates red-handed as they steal your parcel, you can still prevent them from causing trouble. The following sections discuss some of these techniques.

Catch Them on Video

Have an outdoor security or doorbell camera as part of your security system.

If you expect a delivery, but it is nowhere to be found, watch the camera footage for clues.

For example, the postal worker may have dropped off your package, but someone trespassed and walked away with your parcel.

If you spot a thief on the video, report the individual to your local police department.

Shine a Light on the Situation

Porch pirates often stay within the shadows. Consider investing in a motion-activated light on your porch to send thieves away.

You can find motion light devices in some hardware stores. This blinding deterrent can act as a way to help catch the culprits.

FAQs

  1. Does USPS insurance cover theft?

USPS insurance does not cover theft. However, this service covers the package value and shipping costs of lost or damaged mail or packages with missing pieces.

For package theft, you must file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which can help investigate mail theft.

  1. Who is responsible if my parcel goes missing?

The shipper or seller must take responsibility for refunding or replacing a missing or stolen package.

Suppose you are a small business owner who frequently ships goods. Having package insurance can help save time and effort as this coverage can help with refund or replacement costs.

  1. Is USPS responsible for my lost package?

As long as you insure your package, USPS’ claim process can cover the shipping costs and your lost package’s value. This way, USPS shows some responsibility for your lost item.

  1. Can I get a refund for a stolen USPS package?

If you are the seller and purchased insurance for the parcel, you can get a refund for a stolen USPS package.

However, USPS will not reimburse your loss if you are the recipient and your package gets stolen. Instead, the seller must refund you or replace the stolen item.

  1. Do USPS employees steal?

The possibility, no matter how small, of an employee stealing something from the company or its customers always exists, and the U.S. Postal Service is no exception.

References

  1. How to Keep Packages From Being Stolen by Porch Pirates
    https://www.consumerreports.org/money/theft/how-to-keep-holiday-packages-being-stolen-a5439792808/
  2. Informed Delivery by USPS
    https://www.usps.com/manage/informed-delivery.htm
  3. Find Missing Mail
    https://www.usps.com/help/missing-mail.htm
  4. File a USPS Claim: Domestic
    https://www.usps.com/help/claims.htm
  5. Mailbox Vandalism
    https://www.moval.org/usps/mail-vandalism.html
  6. Mail Theft
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Mail-Theft