ATLANTA — Brad Ruffkess received a notification on his cell from his home cameras. He had just installed them the day before on his Virginia Highlands home. He watched in disbelief as a man casually walked to the front door of his home, grabbed two packages and walked away, never breaking a slow glide.
“You feel violated to have those things stolen,” Ruffkess said.
Over 11 million people had a package stolen from their house in 2018, according to Edelman Intelligence. It may have happened to you while you were at work or on vacation.
In fact, it’s reported almost two-thirds of packages are stolen during the day by so-called porch pirates, those thieves who follow delivery trucks and decide your stuff is theirs.
It happened twice to Ruffkess and he quickly tired of people stealing from him.
“I started searching for solutions. I was surprised there wasn’t something on the market already like this,” he said.
Ruffkess would create his own solution: BoxLock, a padlock system easily placed in front of a house or apartment.
“You put it on a storage container outside of your house. It’s got a barcode scanner in the lock. The delivery driver walks up, grabs the lock, scans the tracking number on the package, the lock instantaneously connects to the internet and confirms, A) is the package for you, B) is the package out for delivery,” Ruffkess explained. “If the answer to both of those is yes, the lock pops open, gives the driver access, (the driver) puts the package inside, locks it up and you get a notification on your phone that the package has been delivered.”
Boxlock touts itself as one of the only at-home, outdoor systems, mounted to the ground or a house that work with FedEx, Amazon, USPS and UPS.
“We’ve trained half a million drivers across the U.S. thus far,” Ruffkess said.
It’s been on the market a little over a year, launching in mid-2019 as part of Amazon’s Prime Day. There’s still some hiccups with delivery drivers, according to customer Bryan Ferris.
“It’s easier for them to set the package on the porch and turn around and walk away or they just set it in front of the box,” said Ferris, who’s had the system for two weeks.
Ferris added after a time or two, drivers quickly figured it out. Ruffkess is aware not every driver will know about the system, so he continues to educate drivers and customers on how to ensure the delivery is properly placed in the box.
Ferris, meanwhile, ordered the system after witnessing constant theft.
“There’s 10 of us in this little community and all of us got hit. Like, I’ve literally caught people taking things,” Ferris said.
Besides personal use, Ferris said he’ll grab his neighbors’ packages to help prevent theft.
“I go over and grab it, put it in the box and text them the code,” Ferris explained.
A one-time code can be sent by text or email to others who want to go over, grab their packages out of a BoxLock without having to wait for their neighbor or family member to arrive home.
“It works well,” Ferris said. “I like it because I don’t have to do anything extra to maintain it.”
Ruffkess now has one proudly displayed on his front porch and is also glad his unwelcomed package swiper hasn’t graced his lawn again.
“We’ve not had anything thankfully stolen since.”
Boxlock prices are $129 for the padlock or $239 for the padlock and the box, which is sold separately. Different bundles are available according to the website.