SF startup could reduce package theft this holiday season

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Thieves swiping packages from doorsteps is a growing problem and it's something a San Francisco tech startup is trying to stop.

Thieves swiping packages directly from the doorstep of homes is a growing problem and it's something a San Francisco tech startup is trying to stop.

With holiday shopping season starting soon, more people than ever will likely turn to online retailers, but that comes with some problems. Actually getting those deliveries is something companies are still trying to solve.

Package theft happens year round, but more frequently around the holidays -- all those gifts left on doorsteps are one huge gift to thieves.

The root of the problem is simple. The Post Office and the shipping carriers mainly deliver during the day, a time when most people are supposed to be at work. In San Francisco, startups are trying to come to the rescue.

"I always felt like I was being punished by the current delivery system for having a full time job," said Zander Adell, Doorman co-founder. "And the question was why can't this be delivered when I'm actually home?"

That's why Zander Adell founded Doorman.

Instead of shipping to your own address, customers have the retailer ship the package to Doorman.

"Once it arrives, we notify you on your phone and then you use the Doorman app to schedule a delivery on your phone until midnight, seven days a week," Adell said.

Drivers hand off the package in-person, and customers sign for it on a smartphone. It costs $4 a package or $20 a month.

TechCrunch writer Anthony Ha says Doorman is the boldest attempt to solve what's called the last mile of online shopping.

"Presumably, that eliminates virtually all the risk of theft," Ha said.

Amazon and local startup Swapbox have opened lockers in public places to pick up shipments, but going straight to a customer's door is a much tougher business where others have failed.

Mail collection service Outbox closed earlier this year and in the past week, shopping valet Sixdoors also announced it's shutting down.

"You've got to have a big workforce of delivery people and so I think that that's very ambitious, that's very tough," Ha said.

Doorman is not hiring full time. Like Uber, they use contractors who drive in their spare time.

"They may have day jobs, this is an opportunity for them to make extra cash during holidays or other times," Doorman co-founder Kapil Israni said.

For now, Doorman operates only in San Francisco.
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technologyshoppingpostal serviceappmobile appmailmanamazonUSPSholidaytheftonline shoppingSan Francisco
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