A Novel Idea to Prevent the Theft of Packages




About: The BCAMRL is a Mechatronics Research Lab, founded in 2014 on the campus of Bergen County Academies, a magnet high school within the Bergen County Technical School District. Students create innovations base...

As more and more Americans are depending on the internet to purchase virtually anything, more and more packages are being delivered, opening a new way to steal: package theft. According to survey results, about 23 million Americans have had packages stolen from their doorsteps. An amped up version of the mailbox designed to protect packages might as well be the solution. A servo will control the accessibility of the lid, obstructing the opening movement of the lid when locked. To move the servo, the user needs to input the correct 4-digit code that they have set up beforehand. LEDs will signify whether or not the input was the correct code. If the input is incorrect, the servo will remain the in the way of the lid. Otherwise, the servo will turn, allowing the lid to open. The Arduino coding program and a servo will be used to program and control the above procedure. The box itself will need to fit packages that can be carried away by thieves more easily. PackageSafe is disguised as a visually appealing bench, to repel the possibility of thieves suspecting it in the first place. This bench disguise also adds bonus functionality, as it can also seat for comfort. It could rest on the ground by the doorstep of the owner’s home, since the owner would like to simply pick up the package rather than fumble through a side opening box to retrieve a package.

Step 1: Base and Feet

Start with a considerably large box with an opening at the top (favorable dimensions are 3ft x 2ft x 2ft, although sizes can definitely vary. The model pictured is 11.75in x 9in x 5.375in, scaled to convenience).

For the foot, cut out 2 pieces of wood as pictured. Glue with wood glue as pictured.

Step 2: Back Frame

Take 2 reasonably proportioned lengths of wood. Accounting for the thickness of the wood and the length of the box, glue a length across the tops of the 2 pieces, and a smaller length in between the pieces, lower. This will be the frame to the back of the bench.

Step 3: Lattice Decor for Back of Bench

For decoration and for a functional back rest, weave thick dowels across the diagonals of the back frame. Secure with wood glue.

Step 4: Adding the Back Frame

After the back rest is completed, insert the extended legs into the back of the box as shown. It should be a snug fit. Secure with glue.

Step 5: Armrests

Accounting for the width of the sides of the box, cut 2 bars of wood for the arms. To support the arms at the front of the box, cut 2 shorter, thinner bars. Accounting for the thickness of the arms, the supports should be about the height of the arms off the box.

Step 6: Lid Installation

To support the hinges that will hold the lid of the box, cut a bar of wood that expands the width of the inside of the box, and glue it to to the back inside length of the box. To probe the optimal location for the hinge, drill the hinge to the bar, then holding the lid to the hinge, mark the location the holes of the hinge fall on. These marked location are where you drill to attach the lid to the hinge.

Step 7: Electronics/Code

The following Arduino code has been made available from shareware. We modified pin setting and adds servo write stement and 3 LEDs to turn on at certain states of the code.
Red=Failed Attempt Yellow=Entering data acknowledgement, Green =Accepted Password To use the keypad first press the designed # to reset keypad, then enter the number you selected as the password. then press the * sign to enter. If correct password green LED light will turn on. If incorrect Red LED light will turn on. The servo will spin for 30 seconds when the correct password is entered. If the password is incorrect the red LED will turn on. Yellow simple lets you know you have press a key. To enter a password, first press the # key then enter the password followed by entering the &* key. This will turn on the servo.

Red LED = pin 13

Yellow LED = pin 12

Green LED = pin 11

Keyboard pad = pin 2,3,4,5,6,7,8

Servo = pin 9



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    3 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Just curious, how do you tell the delivery person to put your package in the bench without telling the thief also?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    PS118: I would build the box so that it latches automatically when closed. You could then leave it open for the deliveryman; when he leaves the package inside, he shuts the lid and it locks automatically. Of course, this makes it useless for any subsequent deliveries, but it would be generally sufficient for those who don't get more than one delivery a day, and my approach could be accomplished with a common latching type lock mechanism.

    An alternative would be to use a mailbox service, which is not only more secure, but they frequently will text you when a package arrives, and they'll often hold packages for several weeks if you're on vacation or something. It's especially useful if you're more high-volume like myself. Yes, it's inconvenient to drive to the physical location to pick stuff up, and it costs a few bucks, but I've never had a package go missing.

    You could also specify that a package be held for pickup, which generally costs nothing, though again, you have to drive to the UPS/FedEx/USPS facility to retrieve your package(s).


    2 years ago

    Good idea. I assume you would also provide some sort of anchoring to keep thieves from just walking off with the entire bench. I would also reinforce with a metal box to keep someone from just kicking in the wood sides.

    For allowing the delivery person access, post a note to use the last 4 digits of the tracking number. Or just leave it unlocked until the package is delivered.