New York City has a package theft problem. The problem is so bad that city leaders have decided to launch a public package locker program they are calling LockerNYC. It is just a pilot program for now, but you can bet the city will expand it if it proves successful. Could this be the future of retail home delivery across the country? Anything is possible.

Package theft costs consumers millions of dollars every year. According to data crunched by Vivint Smart Home, 34% of Americans report having at least one package stolen within their lifetimes. Among that group, 40% reported a theft within the last year.

Apartment dwellers are 30% more likely than their house-dwelling counterparts to have a package stolen. In addition, the largest share of stolen packages accounted for in Vivint’s data were stolen from urban areas. These two statistics could explain why leaders in New York decided to embark on their public package locker program.

Tens of Thousands of Packages

A recent report detailing the locker program says that upwards of 90,000 packages are reported stolen in New York every day. That number is mind boggling to me. To say the city has a problem with package theft is to oversimplify a huge crime issue. Whether or not it is the city’s responsibility to install package lockers, it’s clear that someone has to do something.

Initially, the program has seen locker units being installed in seven locations across three of New York’s five boroughs: Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Each locker unit contains twenty-five individual lockers secured by anti-theft mechanisms and video cameras. Residents need to sign up with participating retailers to utilize the lockers. They are free.

LockerNYC is ostensibly costing the city nothing. I am not quite sure how that works, but I’ll assume the reports are true. Program success would then give the city every motivation it needs to expand the program far and wide. We will see what happens.

Public Lockers and Other Places

Although the NYC program might seem innovative and unique, it’s not. Amazon has been delivering to locker locations for more than a decade. Where I live in Florida, there are half-a-dozen public locker locations within a 10-minute drive. They are owned and operated by private entities like the UPS Store.

We even have package lockers in my community. Because mail and USPS packages are not delivered directly to our houses, we have a central drop off location at the clubhouse. Private package delivery companies – think UPS, FedEx, etc. – still make door-to-door deliveries. But any packages delivered by the postal service are left in the lockers.

A Highly Secure System

I cannot disagree with the idea that package lockers represent a highly secure system. No system is 100% secure, but package lockers are exponentially more secure than leaving packages unattended on a porch. The big downside to remote locker locations is that they eliminate some of the convenience of online shopping.

What options do people have if they don’t want to use off-site package lockers? They can arrange to have packages left with friends. They can have them shipped to their workplaces. They can even go so far as to install smart locks on their homes. When packages arrive, a tap of the smartphone unlocks a front door so the delivery driver can leave them inside.

If I were forced to make the call, I would say package lockers are the future of retail home delivery. They are the best option we have right now. As more people figure that out, more locker locations are popping up.