Dear PoP – Package Delivery?


“Dear PoP,

As a soon-to-be Petworth resident, I wonder what most people do about receiving FedEx or UPS packages in the neighborhood. I’m an Amazon Prime member, and do the majority of my shopping through them. My first try sending a package to my soon-to-be house resulted in UPS leaving a slip for missed delivery, and a refusal to allow a dropoff.

My new place has a decent sized front porch, so I was thinking the ideal solution would be some kind of self-locking box that the UPS or FedEx guy could drop the stuff into. (ie: a metal locking box that I could leave propped open, but once someone puts something in, they could snap the lid down all the way, thus locking it). I can’t find anything that quite fits the bill – does anyone know of anything like this?

I *have* been able to find a monstrous mailbox (that’s pretty much the same as a USPS mailbox) at – but this just seems to be overkill:

Any help would be greatly appreciated – I really don’t want to have to shell out money to the UPS store to pick up my packages for me.”

I think most people get their packages delivered to their work address. We spoke about the issue a bit here. But if work delivery is not an option what do you guys recommend?

36 Comment

  • Maybe I’m an idiot, but I just get stuff dropped on my front porch in Bloomingdale. So far I’ve never had anything stolen (to my knowledge). It helps if you know your next door neighbors and they watch out for you.

  • I have the same issue. Also and Amazon Prime member and UPS folks won’t ever leave the packages on the porch unless I sign the slip and leave it on the front door. Always means an extra day of delivery. I hope somebody puts a good solution on here.

  • in CH i just test my luck. i’ve had at least one package never show up, and one definitely broken into but left (it was used socks from my mom).

  • Holy crap, normantown, did you seriously say that?! Thanks for turning what should be a problem-solving comment thread into a racist one….

    Back the matter at hand, I’d get things delivered to my work address to be safe. Anyone (of any skin color, in any neighborhood) is capable of stealing a package.

  • wow normantown… way to group an entire race together like that. and **shocker** I’ve had white people steal my stuff more often than black people! It’s not a color issue. keep your racist comments to yourself.

    The FedEX/UPS/USPS people would leave stuff in a “hidden” spot on my porch – they usually stuck it in my recycling bin (an empty one) that was next to the door, and hung one of those sticker things on the door telling me where it was. That way people think you have a delivery waiting for you, not hidden somewhere.

  • I leave in Petworth and have had my packages left on my porch for years now. Never a single problem.

  • I have all my stuff delivered to my office. No theft issues and, according to a UPS man I spoke to, both UPS and Fedex prioritize deliveries to commercial addresses, e.g. offices, so you’re more likely to get your package faster than if delivered to a home address.

  • @Alex: assuming you’re following the package tracking online, just leave a signed note on the door on the day of delivery asking for the package to be left on the porch. That’s what I do. Not only does it work, the UPS guy thanked me for it, as it means he doesn’t have to attempt delivery twice per package.

  • Do you have a neighbor who is home almost always during the day? this solution just kind of fell into my lap in my condo (no doorman). When ever anythign would get dropped off my elderly neighbor who is home all day every single day unless she has a drs apt would have it brought in and she would leave a little note in our mailbox. It seems all delivery folks have total trust in her and she is really reliable. Plus, I think she likes having the responsibilty and “job” to keep her busy sometimes (we have 24 units in the building so there is usually something going on). Just a thought, maybe there is someone on your block who would like to keep watch like that.

  • Simple solution: get a good neighbor & get to know neighbors who are home during the day and have packages delivered to them. i’ve done this for years and it’s great. also, get to know your delivery guys (usps, ups, and fedex) and let them know it’s cool to leave deliveries at so-and-so’s home.

    it requires some effort to be a true neighbor, but it’s great.

  • definitely what h street denizen said.
    also, tip the ups dude yearly. depends on the turnaround of your route i guess.

    i’ve had 5 drivers in a decade, so its worth tipping. if it were 25, i wouldnt.

  • We are in an apt building and just have stuff delivered to our work instead – just easier for us.

    Working at UPS during the holidays, it was pretty common for people to use your lock box idea. Most would have a big container of sorts with an unlocked pad lock on it. Once the box was inside, the instructions said to just lock it up. We were happy to do it. These were mostly used out in the boonies though – highly unlikely anyone else would even see the box, let alone steal it. Guess it is just a peace of mind thing.

  • I think you could take the idea from the site and either make an upsidedown doggie door in your front door or build a bench that has a similar drop box door. You could get really creative and make a planter that serves a dual purpose.
    Perhasp there is a local business that you patronize regularly. If you know the owner, perhaps you could talk them into acceptign the occasional package? Otherwise get a mail box at a local Mail Box Etc. type place.

  • We have a small ‘porch’ and our landlords have two large flowerpots out there. There’s enough space between the one and our house for packages to fit and not be easily seen from the street.

  • Having had several packages stole off my porch in the past in both Columbia Heights and Petworth, I definitely recommend no just allowing the delivery guy to drop it on your porch. The easiest solution I’ve found is delivering to work. If that’s not an acceptable answer, than I’m actually intrigued by your lockbox idea.

    Just don’t let them leave it out. Seriously.

  • I live in CH and have never had any problems with having packages left at the door. Sometimes the mailman takes it upon himself (yes, he’s a guy) to “hide” packages for us by putting them behind flowerpots, etc…very thoughtful of him although occasionally it works too well and a while goes by before we find the boxes!


    Perhaps you could build two pillars at the begining of your walkway and then make one of them a receptical for your large packages. I’d put the drop box out of view of the street so as not to get trash thrown in it.

  • I know of a case where the police used the acceptance of a neighbor’s package (containing drugs) as the foundation for raiding the friendly neighbor’s house. Ever since reading that, my advice has been not to accept others’ packages.

  • My solution has been to just pick the packages (free) up at the respective facilities. Its a pain, but having stuff stolen is more of a pain. Even when I lived on “real” Cap Hill, delivery men were skeptical of leaving packages on porches. Living in a transitional neighborhood, without a porch of any kind, has left me stumped. If possible I have stuff shipped for USPS as the main facility for 20002 has unreal pick up hours (until midnight!).

  • We had a crappy little plant stolen from our front porch/steps…I don’t try my luck with leaving packages in the front. And unfortunately, I work in a secured building so having it delivered to work doesn’t work either. Gotta pick them up at UPS/FedEx place.

  • One day I was walking on the upper west side of Manhattan and a dry-cleaners had a sign saying that they would accept packages for their customers. I often wonder why some establishment doesn’t do the same thing. With all the goverment workers in this town, many of which cannot get packages at their work, it seems just charging a buck a package would be worth it.

  • At Christmas season, thieves regularly walk the streets looking for left packages. I’ve seen them & called the police, but of course they’re long gone. The rest of the year – hit or miss. Some deliverers will think to hide the package, but I’ve also had them just drop a big obvious box on my stoop without even ringing the doorbell to check if anyone was home. (Worse around Christmas, when there are a lot of temps.)

    I like the padlock container idea, but the good neighbor idea is best. My UPS guy knows I work at home and will hold packages for anyone on my block. But last year a temp UPS guy left my mail-order amaryllises (sp?) on the neighbor’s porch under their chair without any notice to either of us – half froze, and I had no gifts to give.

  • My UPS guy “hides” it behind a chair or some kind of object on my porch.

  • WE never had any problems. The delivery person usually left the packages behind the porch pillar. If they were too big, well then, nothign was ever stolen.

  • Original poster here. Thanks for all the responses. Unfortunately, delivery at work isn’t an option…and it sounds like no one has a solution that works any better than what I’ve found to date. Sounds like I may have to bust out my engineering degree and make my own solution.

  • When my wife and I got married, we had to figure out how to manage the packages we were receiving as people purchased items from our registry–we had no idea when a package was coming–and also what we would do while we were on our honeymoon. What we ended up doing was getting a box at the UPS Store in CH (next to the Ruby Tuesday. It was expensive but worth it, since we ended up getting about 40-50 packages over the course of 2-3 months.

    We had to get the largest box ($40/month) but that covered unlimited number of packages. They also have small and medium boxes less ($20 & $30/month I think), but there are limits for the number of oversized packages (3 & 7 I think); every subsequent package is $4-5. The other catch is a three month contract.

    If you don’t want a box, I think you can have them receive packages for $6-7 on an ad hoc basis.

  • Dang – I might have put up with marriage if I knew I’d get 40-50 presents!!!

  • Haven’t had any issues. Good neighbors, first of all. Some flowers on the porch help. Plus Irving St’s pretty busy. You’d have to be pretty bold to steal in broad daylight. Even the funkier looking folk on the block, and the loafing teens got better stuff to do than steal our packages.

  • And I co-sign about stealing not being endemic to DC. I had stuff taken by idle tools up in Rockville–well to do white teenagers. They’d toss the books I ordered, of course. They’d then take the rest. It must be hard on anyone with a home business or who’s regularly receiving a bunch of stuff. And don’t be shy about being a concerned neighbor if it does happen. Tell folks you;ve problems and you want to enlist their help if they saw anything weird. Hell, that’s how they caught the Alex P Keaton types in Rockville.

    I still think a lot of this is due to lazy UPS and FedEX drivers. And indeed there’re some who act stupid because they think Petworth, CH, etc are “bad places” and think they can just dump packages.

  • I live in CH and use BaseCamp in Adams Morgan often. It’s near Lauriol Plaza:
    1929 18th St NW
    Washington, DC 20009-1710
    (202) 387-8831

    It’s a shipment/receiving/printing place. You can ship your packages to BaseCamp and they charge $1 per package, regardless of size. They will call and email you once the package arrives (Ben, who i think is the owner, is great). I’ve had large appliances (fridge, stove) delivered; outdoor furniture; large tv’s, etc. It’s a great service and a local business.

  • Find an old beat up/rustic steel or tough looking trunk and leave it outside. On UPS days, leave an unlocked padlock on it, w/ a the little note on the box. On regular days, use it as a seat, footrest, or small table.

  • @Maureen: The 20002 post office on Mass Ave did stay open until midnight as recently as this February, but it now closes at 7 pm 🙁

    Kinda pitiful that there’s not a single 24-hour USPS customer-service desk in the Nation’s Capital. After 7 pm, there’s not a single post office open in this town.

  • Wow, so a business DOES exist that charges $1 per package to avoid having to drive out to Laurel/Crofton/wherever the shipping location is. That’s fantastic. Thanks for the basecampdc tip.

  • The UPS Store in Columbia Heights offers solutions to this.
    They offer mail box services and accept packages from all the carriers.
    They are open from 8.30 am to 7.00 pm M-F and 9-6 on Saturdays.
    If you need, you can use their address to receive packages on time to time basis also.
    The service is good prices reasonable.
    Their num,ber is 202-234-4877.

  • Amazon replaces stolen goods (they’ll send you the exact thing again, and to a different address if you want).

  • I live in Columbia Heights (well, Pleasant Plains) and the FedEx/UPS guy leave packages under my bench on the front porch. My neighbors have a sign taped to their front door asking the UPS/FedEx person to leave all packages at the front step. If you dont specifically put “signature required” than it should be fine.

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