The Great Christmas Parcel Treasure Hunt

Home owners install CCTV to help customers find where couriers have ‘hidden’ their deliveries

Britain’s appetite for a mail order Christmas shows no sign of dying out, but customers are becoming irked some to the point of outrage – by couriers and postmen who are ‘hiding’ parcels in bizarre and difficult-to-find locations.

That’s the opinion of a national installer of CCTV systems which says frustrated homeowners have been driven to training CCTV cameras on their property just to find out what happens to their deliveries while they’re not at home.

This comes after a series of unbelievable stories from new customers who tell of their year-round frustration at clueless couriers and potty posties who don’t seem able to follow delivery instructions, the company says.

“We have customers installing home CCTV systems simply so they can see where parcels were left,” says spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe, “It seems totally crazy, but it’s actually happening all over the country.”

With British shoppers expected to spend some £13bn online in the run-up to Christmas this year[1], says that perplexed buyers would quite like to know where their deliveries are ending up.

After the story of the man who found a parcel flung onto the roof of his house went viral on the internet in August[2], decided to find out the strangest places mail order customers had discovered their parcels, and found a litany of bizarre hiding places, petty theft and accidental destruction:

• “Under the doormat – an arrangement that worked fine for books and CDs, but not so well for our new espresso maker. It’s probably been sold down a car boot by now” Paula, Reading
• “We got a card from the postman saying a parcel was ‘behind the plant’. I garden for a hobby I’ve got hundreds of them. It took us hours, groping around in the dark with a torch.” Stuart, Sheffield
• “In the bin. On bin day. Guess what happened.” Christine, London
• “They left a card saying it was over the garden gate, which is seven feet high. Smashed to pieces.” – Derek, Essex
• “Very kind of the courier to leave a huge parcel of clothes in the back garden where I let the dogs run free. I came home to what looked like a hurricane in a jumble sale. They had a whale of a time.” – Roshina, Luton
• “Ha ha! We eventually found the courier’s card saying they left a package out of the rain, under the wheel of my car on the drive, but only after I’d driven right over it.” Steve Wolverhampton
• “I’ve now got a big signs saying NO PARCELS IN HERE on the water butt at the side of my house. Because, you know, some people lack common sense” Adele, Edinburgh. Adele went on to say: “Of course, the delivery company denied everything, but the CCTV footage doesn’t lie.”

That’s where householders are finding the extra value in the CCTV systems, Jonathan Ratcliffe says. With most systems installed to deter criminals, the owners are finding them invaluable in monitoring who has been coming to their door, and when.

“People are using their systems to find where couriers are leaving items, and also for conflict resolution if there’s a dispute over deliveries,” says Ratcliffe. “One happy customer phoned to say they only found a package after reviewing their camera footage, and found it in the meter cupboard!”

For those not considering the extra security of a CCTV system, there are other steps the householders can take to ensure their deliveries aren’t lost

• Make arrangements with a friend or neighbour to accept parcels when you’re not at home
• Arrange a safe place with the courier company or postman where parcels can be placed out of sight from passers-by
• Consider investing in a parcel safe – in effect, a large lockable post box.

“Lost deliveries are incredibly frustrating for shoppers at any time of year,” says’s Jonathan Ratcliffe, “but it can be made many times worse at Christmas. Take a few simple steps and your Festive Season won’t be spoiled by a misunderstanding about a wrongly delivered parcel.”

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