When mail enters a mailbox, it seems relatively safe to assume that people’s mail is secure inside without the worries of anyone tampering with it. But is it safe to assume that packages delivered to homes are deemed the same way, largely when they are left on porches, not in mailboxes? Especially during the December holiday season, a significant number of online orders will be placed to ship to people’s doorsteps during these times!

Though, it probably does feel true that mail is safely protected, as mailboxes are not technically considered the property of homeowners but rather are the property of the U.S. government. Thus knowing this means if a person were to tamper or take mail from another person’s mailbox, it would be considered a federal crime.

But what happens when someone were to take a package from a person’s doorstep? Are packages protected the same way as in mail in a mailbox? Or are porches considered to be “free-range” for potential porch pirates eyeing packages?

With much of people’s shopping now mainly occurring online, it is reasonable to say that the shipping of packages has increased. All of those orders have been met with increasing porch pirating incidents as well.

A well-known YouTuber and former NASA engineer named Mark Rober made a video that recognizes the issue of porch pirates and tries to prevent them from stealing. The basis of the video involved pranking porch pirates by luring them to steal a decoy package left out on a porch.

Rober was motivated to make the video, which became a series, as he expressed the frustration he got when a package was stolen from his front porch one time and the police did not do anything about it.

So in an effort to get revenge on porch pirates, Rober with his experience at NASA made a “Glitter bomb” which was a decoy package made to look like an Apple Homepod. Inside was a box with four phone cameras to capture a porch pirate’s reaction, a tracker, fart spray, and most notably a mechanical spinner filled with glitter! When opened, the spinning cup would spin up to spew a plethora of glitter across a radius, decorating everything in its way with glitter while simultaneously spraying fart spray, which causes a potent smell!

Spinner mechanism on the box, spreading glitter around as it spins. Image captured from the video. ZHI ZHU

Since making the first video of the series back in December 2018 titled: “Glitter Bomb 1.0 vs Porch Pirates”, it has gained a ton of popularity and racked up millions of views on YouTube.

The video was so successful that the now renowned glitter bomb is on its fifth and final version which premiered this December, with each version improving every year:

The progression of each version showed in Mark Rober’s final glitter bomb video. Collage put together by captures from the video. ZHI ZHU

Instead of using glitter bombs, could there be a way that the government can include homeowners’ porches as part of a more secure “mailbox” to further expand on protecting packages and not just mail? It might be complicated to enforce this as some homeowners may want to own most of their property than have it be owned by the government. But, there are also those who want the protection of their packages to be safe from thieves.

Though it is not always guaranteed that packages are safe from porch pirates, there could be laws and punishments that are more strict in place for stealing packages and even stealing in general. Having this in place can potentially deter porch pirates from taking packages in the first place.

Singapore, for example, has highly strict punishments for crimes relating to stealing. Thus crime rates for stealing are very minimal especially when there is a deterrent through strict laws and punishments in place.

Since Mark Rober created the glitter bomb, there seems to have been a shift in porch pirating behavior. Rober explained in his last video of the series was people seem to have realized that a package could potentially be a trap, thus porch pirates have started to have diminished their activity in taking packages. Rober also explained how “smash-and-grab” thieves have changed their tactics with stealing and started to realize that electronics and consumer products could be traps and would rather steal luggage and backpacks from cars.

Rober also addressed how there were good samaritans who would try to locate or try to hide the glitter bomb out of view. On the package, there was also a phone number that people could call if found which Rober would answer and explain what the package was for then would give them a prize for being a good person.

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus if packages are protected like mail, or if any laws in place can make stealing have higher consequences. Whether or not porches can be as secure as a mailbox, one thing is for sure, glitter bombs might be the way to go for now in the battle against porch pirates!

Check out the glitter bomb videos by Mark Rober:

Glitter bomb 1.0 (2018): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoxhDk-hwuo&t=2s 

Glitter bomb 2.0 (2019): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_TSR_v07m0 

Glitter bomb 3.0 (2020): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4T_LlK1VE4 

Glitter bomb 4.0 (2021): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3c584TGG7jQ  

Latest Final Version 5.0 (2022): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWeu2dxHRDg  

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