Out for lunch earlier this month, Hannah Power received a message on her phone to say that a parcel containing £300 worth of clothing, presents and Christmas party attire had been safely delivered.

But living in the centre of a town and having had packages stolen in the past, the 29-year-old immediately feared the worst — and ran back home.

‘At 1.47pm it said the parcel had been delivered and left on the front porch — even though I don’t have one,’ she said. ‘I got home at 2.09pm and already it was gone.’

Elle stated that it was her policy to ensure that packages are not left at her door, and that they should be delivered to the nearest shop.

Video grab from the shocking footage of thieves caught stealing parcels from the front step of a grandmother's home in Andover, Hampshire

Video taken from shocking footage showing thieves stealing parcels at the front door of the grandmother’s house in Andover (Hampshire).

‘I live in the centre of a town — my neighbours are NatWest and Boots,’ she explained. ‘It would be like leaving a parcel down your local street — it’s the most public place.’

Hannah, who has lived at the listed property in Farnham, Surrey, for two-and-a-half years, estimates that she has had ten parcels stolen in that time, worth a total of about £700. Yodel delivered Zara’s latest parcel last week. A Yodel spokesperson said: ‘The safe delivery of parcels is our number-one priority and we are sorry to hear about Ms Power’s experience.’

‘No matter what I do, this happens all the time,’ says Hannah, a self-employed personal branding coach to business owners.

‘I have a sign which says: “Do not leave parcels there, please take it to the shop.” I laminated it myself because that’s how much of an annoyance this is.

‘In the past, I have bought stickers saying “CCTV in operation” and a fake CCTV camera, but I live in a listed building so had to take it down. I find it a real pain to order things online. I live alone — what else can I do? Hire a private concierge?’

This Christmas, she’s not alone.

Because homeowners the length and breadth of Britain are reporting an unprecedented outbreak of ‘porch piracy’ — a term given to the theft of deliveries left outside homes.

Porch piracy might not be new, but with online shopping booming due to a combination of Covid and the festive season — it’s estimated that about one billion parcels will be delivered in the month leading up to Christmas — there are rich pickings to be had for thieves this year.

Doorbell camera footage has caught thieves stealing parcels of presents a gran bought for her young grandson

Camera footage from the doorbell has shown thieves taking parcels of presents that a grandmother bought for her grandson.

Indeed, experts estimate that ten parcels are lost every single minute of the day, with a record £50 million-worth set to go missing this December alone.

Worryingly, the situation has got so bad that some police forces are now advising homeowners to avoid home deliveries altogether — and opt for click-and-collect instead.

Although doorstep thefts tend to be seen as primarily opportunistic crime, there are concerns that organized gangs might now be getting in on the act.

According to one courier, her vehicle had been followed twice by thieves who then chased her through another car.

‘People do follow us to see where we leave parcels and then they lift them,’ said the woman, who has worked for delivery firm Hermes for the past five years.

‘They followed us on the round for no other reason than to see where we left parcels. Once I realized what they were up to, I stopped and delivered the parcels that day. It meant I missed out on a day’s work, but I guess others might not bother.’

It is also interesting to see how some customers report thefts within minutes of receiving their goods. This paints an image of some areas that are ripe for thieving.

Molly Ceglowski was watching a film with her family at her home in West London when she got a message informing her that a parcel had been ‘successfully delivered’.

A photo of the parcel, which contained a pink birthday gown for Martha (four years old), was included in the email.

She got it back just four minutes after she went downstairs. ‘I got the email at 6.37pm and by 6.41pm it had disappeared,’ Ms Ceglowski said.

‘There were four of us in the house, lights blazing, but the driver hadn’t rung the bell or knocked.’

According to Radio Producer 36, neighbours also were targeted. With the rapidity of the thefts, it is possible that the thieves could have been coordinated.

Only when watching back footage on her video doorbell did she discover that her parcel had been taken, minutes after it was delivered

She discovered that the parcel was taken minutes after delivery when she viewed back video from her doorbell.

It’s not just thefts that are an issue. Which?’s new research shows that thefts are not the only problem. New research by Which? shows that four out of ten homes receiving Christmas deliveries online saw their delivery go wrong in 2013.

More than 2000 people were surveyed by the consumer watchdog about their experiences with these issues. Some of the most common blunders included damaged items, packages being dumped into the bin, and other parcels being tossed over fences. One example was a crate containing wine being hurled across a garden gate.

One in five delivery problems were reported by people who received a late delivery, one of ten deliveries left without permission, and one-in-14 parcels went missing. It is the missing parcels that are most concerning. Many victims of porch theft, like Hannah Power, claim that the couriers ignored their orders not to leave packages on their doorsteps or left them in unsafe locations.

Another homeowner who recently lost more than £100 worth of goods told the Mail how, earlier this month, she had ordered a range of Christmas presents that were left outside her home in the Midlands in a large box.

It had already been taken by the courier when she returned from work. The sign was clearly posted instructing couriers to not leave parcels. It was exactly the same. ‘Again, I got home after a long day of work to no parcel,’ she said.

The courier who spoke to the Mail admitted ‘there are a handful [of drivers] giving good couriers a bad name’, but insisted they are under unprecedented pressure to deliver more and more parcels by companies who just do not take on enough staff — and that this has contributed to a growing number of thefts.

‘In the past two years because of Covid, the volumes have just shot up and all the courier companies have not sorted it out —there are not enough couriers doing the job,’ she said.

‘I’m working seven days a week on a rural route and deliver 160 parcels a day, at a rate of about 25 an hour, but you have got people in city or town routes who can easily be doing 250 parcels a day.

‘On average I am paid 60p a parcel and if I don’t deliver the parcel, I don’t get paid and have to take it back to the depot and it’s added on to my round the next day.’

She added: ‘Ninety per cent of couriers have their own set routes so they know their customers and can build a relationship with them, and they know where to leave their parcels so that it is safe.

‘But then you get cover couriers who don’t know the area, or people who have come in to cover the backlog. Many temporary drivers are hired during this season. They don’t know their area and they don’t know how it works. Any courier should know you don’t leave a parcel on a busy street, but they just want the parcels out.’

Anne Pardoe, Citizens Advice’s webmaster on theft of parcels has echoed her point regarding the increasing pressure on couriers. It has witnessed an increase in visits to their website almost 50% year-on-year.

‘This is really concerning for the millions of people who’ll be ordering Christmas gifts,’ she said. ‘We know delivery drivers are under huge pressure to deliver high volumes each day, meaning parcels are often left in unsafe locations, like doorsteps and bins.

‘So, while criminals are to blame for their actions, delivery companies make it worse by setting high delivery quotas for their drivers.

‘Companies must reduce the pressure on drivers and make it easier for customers to tell them what they want to happen with their parcel if they’re out.’ In situations like this, when a parcel is not received, the advice is to contact the retailer from whom the missing item was purchased.

‘Your contract is with the retailer, so they need to resolve any issues that arise,’ says consumer rights expert Scott Dixon.

‘Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 it is the retailer’s legal responsibility to make sure the item is safely delivered to you.’

The law states that ‘the goods remain at the trader’s risk until they come into the physical possession of the consumer, or a person identified by the consumer to take possession of the goods’. They should notify the consumer of the loss and either refund the money or arrange for delivery.

In Hannah Power’s case, the money was refunded by Zara. But this does not apply if specific instructions have been given for the item to be left, for example, ‘in shed at rear’, or another designated safe place.

It is the homeowner responsible for any theft. The reason is that the courier and retailer have followed your orders.

Although such theft can be reported to the police, it is unlikely that home insurance will pay compensation unless the thief entered your home to steal the parcel.

Concerning the perpetrators of porch piracy, video captured by home CCTV systems shows many still commit opportunistic crime. Passers-by may spot parcels and then take them. Earlier in the year, Darren Grimwood confessed to stealing four parcels from Ipswich homes.

This 34-year old has a lengthy criminal history and was previously convicted for breaking into homes and schools. A lesser penalty than burglary is possible for theft from the doorstep.

For stealing the parcels, one of which included a pair of trainers, Grimwood was ordered to pay compensation of just £164.

However, the Mail courier spoke out to say that not all customers are guilty. ‘There are a lot of customers who are great, but there are some who will claim not to have received a parcel when they actually did,’ she said.

‘People don’t help themselves — if they wanted they could go to a DIY shop and just buy a secure box to put deliveries in.’

A wide variety of technologically advanced gadgets are available on the marketplace. You can attach devices like the iParcelBox to your house. It connects with your WiFi network so you can open it and close it remotely. This allows for multiple delivery options.

You can also find a variety of doorbell-mounted cameras like Amazon’s Ring that monitor who is approaching your front door. These allow you to talk to drivers remotely from home. This device will be further developed by Amazon, which plans to incorporate artificial intelligence.

It would be able to recognize any package left in the area during the day, according to a patent that was filed last year. To prove they’re allowed to remove the package, anyone seen moving it would automatically be asked to show their identification using an ID card.

Yodel for its part encourages its customers to use the Yodel app, website and customer portal to keep track their deliveries, update preferences, and monitor delivery status.

Even though they have been left behind, the victim should be consoled by the image of the burglar who stole a large package from the front door of a Norwich house earlier in the month.

He would’ve discovered, when he opened the package that it contained more than just a collection of valuable Christmas presents.