An estimated 260 million packages disappeared in the U.S. last year, according to Safewise, many taken right from the front door area while a camera recorded the theft. As the holiday season kicks into high gear, package thefts are a top concern, and one shipping company is using artificial intelligence to combat porch pirates.
Nearly one in four adults had a package stolen in the last 12 months, a survey by Finder said. Theft can be an even more serious problem if those packages contain necessities, like medication, or expensive items.
“This time of year, we ship a lot of gifts, so every package is very special to the person receiving it,” said Tarek Saab, president of Texas Precious Metals, whose company ships items like silver bars and gold coins.
This year, Saab is using a new UPS data program called DeliveryDefense, which he says helps them identify addresses that are likely targets for theft.
UPS gave CBS News a look at how the program works.
The A.I.-powered program takes a recipient’s address and produces a score — a higher score indicates a higher likelihood of a successful delivery. The scores are created using years of data from previous deliveries and other factors.
For addresses with a low score, the merchant can reroute the item, with the customer’s approval, to a UPS Store or other pickup locations.
“About 2% of addresses will be considered low confidence, and we’re seeing that represents about 30% of losses our customers are having,” Mark Robinson, president of UPS Capital, told CBS News.
At Texas Precious Metals, Saab believes the technology can reduce those numbers.
“We recognize it’s computers versus criminals, and we have to use every tech capability that we have to try to circumvent any challenges we might run into,” he said.