Stolen Packages and the Five Stages of Grief

Every day, thousands of online shoppers have packages delivered to their homes. Unfortunately, some packages don’t make it safely inside before being stolen by porch pirates, often triggering a sense of grief and loss among package theft victims.  

Package theft is costly for victims

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

It’s obvious that no one wants their property stolen. Experiencing package theft is an extra bitter pill to swallow. We’re all familiar with the excitement of purchasing something with our hard-earned money and then anticipating its safe arrival on our porch in the coming days. Thousands of shoppers just like you and me purchase items, then look forward to their delivery dates. Perhaps it’s a present for a loved one we spent a lot of time saving money for and carefully selecting; maybe it’s a gift for ourselves; maybe it’s a needed textbook for school. When the delivery date for valued items we purchase comes and goes as individuals become victims of package theft, they may experience the stages of grief and loss.

Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross originally introduced the five stages of loss (also known as the Kübler-Ross model) in a 1969 book On Death and Dying. Though experiencing package theft is trivial compared to losing a loved one, Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief has been applied to many life experiences and challenges. Now, we’ll apply it to package theft.


The Five Stages of Grief

1.   Denial

The first stage of grief is denial. Shoppers experiencing package theft might arrive home from work and look for their package on its scheduled delivery date. They may have received notification that their package was delivered. After looking around their typically delivery area – their porch, door, or doorsteps – they may initially conclude that the UPS, DHL, USPS, or some other carrier didn’t place their package in the right place. Perhaps they think that the delivery was delayed prior to checking delivery details for their package. The thought that their package or parcel was stolen may briefly cross their mind, but their primary state of mind is denial. “I know package theft happens, but it doesn’t happen to me.”

2.   Anger

When they realize that their package was likely stolen, online shoppers will naturally get angry. “How could this happen to me?” “Who would steal a package off my doorstep!” “If I find out who stole my package, then…”

This stage is the most visible on social media where we see a lot of angry consumers lash out.

3.   Bargaining

Although bargaining tends to happen with serious loss, someone might experience this stage of grief with thoughts like “I would give anything to not have that package stolen.” Bargaining is often agitated by the fact that e-commerce shoppers item is both needed and time-sensitive. A wedding gift for their best friend’s wedding, or a hard-to-find toy for their child’s upcoming birthday.  

4.   Depression

We will likely feel sad when we realized that our package has been stolen and is likely challenging to recover. Some consumers might feel targeted. For others, the hard work to save up for a purchase, the time spent carefully selecting the item, and the anticipation of its delivery all cumulate to a big feeling of loss when we realized we have to try to recover the item or re-purchase it with future earnings. This is obviously an unpleasant experience that can lead to sadness.

5.   Acceptance

The final stage of Kübler-Ross’ model is acceptance. “My package has been stolen, and I don’t want to let it happen again.” The stage of acceptance is accompanied by resolutions to prevent porch pirates from stealing again. Shoppers might take actions to thwart thieves from attempting or even be tempted to steal from their porches.

There are steps you can take to protect your packages

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent porch pirates. And taking steps to prevent porch pirates from stealing packages is often less expensive than re-ordering stolen items that were delivered to your doorstep. 

  1. Install a front door security camera
  2. Post a warning sign
  3. Consider installing a package theft alarm
  4. Consider installing a parcel box near the delivery door

We've put together a free in-depth guide regarding everything you need to know about preventing package theft for you here