“Are there similar services that we don’t know about?”

by Prince Of Petworth May 19, 2016 at 2:15 pm 51 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

My wife and I are moving back into the city after a short mistaken stint in the burbs. We’ll be moving into an apartment in a renovated townhouse, which means there is no front desk or foyer. While we’re looking forward to our return, we just came to an odd realization this week that I had never really considered – any packages that are delivered will be left on the doorstep, and package theft is a standard (and sad) part of city life. And yet, we’ve come to rely on these deliveries for everything from pet food to home goods.

We can’t be the only people who have pondered this, and I’m wondering if anyone in PoPville knows of a solution to get packages delivered from non-USPS mail handlers (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.). Amazon has lockers, but the closest one is in Arlington. I’ve read about services in other cities that accept packages for you and stay open late so that you can get them after work. Are there similar services that we don’t know about?”

  • Trinidaddy

    There are plenty of nearby businesses in most areas of the city that accept packages on your behalf and hold them for you, often for free. Near Trinidad, WS Jenks hardware store does this.

    • Carver Langston Neighbor

      Oh Wow! That is good to know – I didn’t realize Jenks did that. We have gotten around it by having all packages delivered to one of our job locations. Better safe than sorry.

  • asdfg

    We’ve used the UPS Access Point program with success. We registered online (for free!), and now our UPS packages automatically get rerouted to a drycleaner down the block from our house.

  • Caroline

    I’ve lived in DC for 5 years and I’m an avid online shopper, getting at least a couple packages a week. I’ve only had one package stolen, despite the fact that I live in an area with a lot of street crime and usually don’t get home from work until 7pm.
    During my short mistaken stint in the ‘burbs I had packages stolen more frequently.
    So I guess my point is that you might be pleasant surprised. Like most crime in DC, the rate of package thefts varies wildly from block to block. I wouldn’t worry about it unless it becomes a problem, or you’re getting packages that would be irreplaceable.

    • Can’t Get Anything Delivered

      Lucky! You must not live on Capitol Hill.

      • kt

        Cap Hill gets a LOT of package thieves. But I find that it can change wildly from street to street, house to house. In my immediate neighborhood there are neighbors who have had packages stolen multiple times. But I have never had a problem. I’m on a busy corner, have a lot of steps up to my porch, and the front of my porch is solid so you can’t see if there is anything there from street level.

        • AnotherBdaleResident

          Same situation for me (busy street, stairs, and a solid wall). A lot of neighbors report package theft, and in the three years I’ve been at my house have never had single one go missing, even around the holidays. It kind of just depends.

      • Caroline

        I actually live right in the center of Capitol Hill! Like I said, it really depends on what block you’re on.

      • alurin

        We live on Capitol Hill. My housemate gets something delivered almost every day. In three years, i can remember one time when a package was apparently stolen. Like Caroline and kt say, it is block by block.

    • David

      I agree with this post. I had the same concern when I moved from a building with a front desk to a rowhouse in the U St. area. I have several packages delivered a week and have never had one stolen — knock on wood!

    • I live in Brookland, on the same block as Menomale, and my packages get stolen at least 50% of the time. I have just started shipping everything to work because it wasn’t worth the hassle.

  • S

    I had the same problem with my last apartment–if you know the carrier that will be delivering your package, like UPS or FedEx, you can have the package sent by the UPS store or FedEx office–just use their address. You’re still at the mercy of the store’s hours, but at least you know that your package isn’t just sitting on your doorstep in plain view.

    If there is a place for the packages to be stashed out of view, like under a set of outdoor stairs (in my case), you can try to catch your UPS/FedEx/etc. carrier the next time they deliver something, and ask them to always put packages in a particular place, out of view. I recommend asking them to not leave a slip on the door saying where the package is.

    • It’s just me

      You can also sign up for notifications from UPS and FedEx – each allows you to customize where you want the package left. Unfortunately, there are only so many choices, so if your option isn’t one of your choices, then that doesn’t work.

      • HaileUnlikely

        In my experience, which I recognize might not be universal, if you ask them to leave the package at a certain place, they will always indicate in their online system that they left it there, regardless of where they actually leave it. I have requested that both UPS and FedEx deliver to my rear basement door. Without fail, my delivery notifications always say “Package Left At: REAR DOOR,” but the package is right there on my front porch at least half the time.

  • Dan

    Good question – Does Amazon still have those drop-off spaces at 7-11? I’ve noticed that convenience stores also help hold on to your packages.

    A technology solution could be more convenient, such as a coded entry system that you could share with the folks that deliver your packages. Most larger units with the ability to ‘buzz’ people in use this process. Or you could even just use some of the new locking mechanisms that can link to your phone to lock and unlock as needed, as long as you were notified that the delivery person was there.

    • Anon Spock

      That’s the option mentioned in the post. For whatever reason, there aren’t any in dc. Smaller stores maybe?

      • Caroline

        I happen to have one near my work but I still find it to be too much of a hassle anyway. If I ever had a problem with stolen packages I’d get a deck box and install a latch that could be used with a padlock. Then I’d post a sign telling the delivery person to put the packages in the box and lock it.

        • Anon Spock

          Too much hassle? Are there other setups that go beyond putting in the code and having the door open?
          Jcm- that makes sense.

          • Caroline

            Having to take a slight detour on the way home, pull up the codes (they tend to split up an order among multiple lockers), and carry the stuff home. It sort of defeats the point of ordering online if I have to do all that.

          • Anon Spock

            I order a lot less online than most, and I drive, so I can see how multiple packages can be a pain.

        • tke98

          Caroline, I actually did that as a precautionary measure when I moved into my Petworth home eight years ago. Another neighbor had that set-up, so I assumed that package theft was a problem. In these eight years, I’ve learned that The UPS follow it 80% of the time; FedEx 10% of the time and the USPS 100% of the time. Fortunately, I live on a block where packages are not routinely stolen, so my deck box isn’t actually needed. Packages big and small are always there. The only problems I’ve had are misdeliveries. Oh and LaserPost . . . whenever Amazon uses them, I pray that I get the package. They will mark it delivered but in actuality it may come a day or two later.

      • jcm

        I think Amazon only installs Lockers in places where they already have to charge sales tax due to a physical presence in the state.

        • Anon

          It’s certainly not based on size. The locker I use is inside a teeny tiny 7-11 and is always blocked by people standing in the register line.

  • Katie

    Not sure what your work situation is like, but I often have packages delivered to my office where they are accepted by the front desk and held for me. I’ve also used the UPS Access Point (albeit not at my own request, but when drivers couldn’t figure out how to access our new condo building). I didn’t particularly care for it since it was somewhat out of the way and, at least for this particular location, things weren’t dropped off until after 6pm, despite me getting a delivery notice that day.

    • Tom

      I get things shipped to work all the time. If it’s too large or heavy to carry home on the Metro, I grab dinner and wait for the rush to die down, then call a taxi.

    • atlascesar

      yeah nearly everything gets delivered to my office. especially if it is valuable. very handy for getting wine deliveries, since my mailroom can sign for it. only issue is very bulky stuff, but that is very seldom for me.

  • jcd

    If you’re living near Dupont Circle/U Street/Adams Morgan, BaseCamp, at the corner of 18th and Willard NW (between T and U) is terrific. I’ve used them for years. Most of my packages cost an extra $2, but it’s well worth it to me for peace of mind.

    • OP

      OP here. We’ll be at 16th and U, so this may be an excellent solution, thanks!

      • morganadam

        +1 — basecamp is great if you’re in this area! you should totally take advantage of this since you’ll be close by.

    • Katy


    • Mia

      +1 love them

  • Anonymous

    Don’t know where you’ll be living/working but Raj and his crew at BaseCamp (1929 18th St NW) are fantastic. In addition to the package service they are a print/design shop and excellent neighbors.

  • anon

    There are lots of solutions in different neighborhoods, from local stores to places where you can rent a mailbox that will also accept package deliveries for you. If you posted your neighborhood(s) close to you, you’d actually get advice on places nearby you could use. It’s a big city.

    • K

      Suggestions for the Rhode Island Avenue/Brentwood Area?

      • I live at 12th & Rhode Island, and my packages were getting stolen so frequently that I just started having everything sent to work. I haven’t been able to figure out any alternate solution :(

  • Anon H St

    Not the OP, but does anyone in the H St/Union Station area have a store they use for this? We have found that most delivery peeps are pretty good about stashing the packages in our recycling bin, which usually keeps them from getting taken, but we have lost two packages to thieves and I would like to have a reliable solution for more valuable items.

    • kt

      There is a dry cleaner on 5th Street one block north of Stanton Park, that I know does UPS drop off and pick up. Not sure about USPS options there.

  • DCRabbit2

    I assume you or a spouse work close to a US Post Office or a “UPS Store.”

    Both offer “PO Boxes” for rent. USPS is cheap – about $10/month. UPS Store is likely more. Both will accept and hold packages for you from all commercial carriers – USPS, UPS, FedEx, Lasership, etc. And you can open one wherever it is geographically convenient to you – near home, near work, “on the way to/from work.”

    Package theft is a large problem on Capitol Hill. You are advised to make alternate arrangements if at all possible. Worth a read: https://capitolhillcorner.org/2016/03/17/package-theft-in-hill-east-three-delivery-services-brief-psa-10/

    If you are a public transit user, renting a box may not be a solution (or convenient).

  • Kingman Park

    Get a lockable deck box – leave padlock open for delivery man and ask they lock it after drop-off. Most services will notify you electronically about an upcoming delivery and allow you to write instructions.

    • [rrrrr]

      Ohh that’s smart, just doesn’t work if you get multiple deliveries from multiple services in a given day.

      • anon

        Yeah, you’d need to invest in a dropbox similar to a mailbox (or the UPS dropboxes that exist outside sometimes). These are available in many sizes, but aren’t cheap. They also get precipitously more expensive as they get bigger, and would never be as big as a deck box. Even a deck box might hit some limits with my Amazon habits (because I occasionally have packages that are quite large).

  • UStCondo

    The 10th Street Market at 10th and S Street NW accepts packages. They charge $1 per package fee but waive the fee for the first package if you purchase something. They also text you to let you know when a package has arrived and have a decent beer selection so that’s where we get most of our beer.

  • Tsar of Truxton

    I use UPS Access Points for UPS and I just have Fedex hold the package at the sorting facility in Eckington because it is close and I can pick it up there. That said, when I have had packages delivered, I have never had any problems.

  • 11st

    It’s also worth trying to get to know the other renters in your building. They may be able/willing to hold packages that arrive, or if you share a hallway they might just pull them in.

  • General Grant Circle

    Build one of those fed-ex.mailbox type things where you can slide it in but cant take it out!

  • Hannah

    There is an app called “Doorman” that would be this exact service but it isn’t offered in DC yet. However, they are taking suggestions for which city to do next! Go and request DC!

  • AnonAnon

    UPS Store in Columbia Heights. Similar Mailbox stores in other locations. Best way to avoid package theft anywhere, as well as those annoying sticky notes..

  • KDK

    I know the OP is a renter, but I am an owner and landlady and I invested in a front yard camera. I purposefully don’t hide the camera, so everyone knows it is there. Haven’t had a package stolen since and I live near H St./Capital Hill and we had a huge problem on my block. It has actually helped for the whole block because between my camera, the school, and the corner store, even if you steal it, someone will catch your face. Again, we aren’t hiding our cameras, so they serve as a real deterrent, not to catch you on the other end.

    • textdoc

      Haven’t we seen on PoPville a lot of camera footage of thieves in the act of stealing packages? (Though maybe those cameras aren’t (as?) visible and thus don’t have a deterrent effect.)

      • Accountering

        I just bought a security camera sign on Amazon for $8, and thought about buying a dummy camera. Problem is, nowhere to install it on the front of the house that doesn’t involve drilling into our window trim.

  • textdoc

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