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Review: BoxLock – keep the porch pirates at bay

It’s a lock, for your packages.

boxlock security pad on box on porch
Image: BoxLock

The rise of online shopping has created enormous growth in the retail sector, as well as for carriers like FedEx, UPS, and USPS. It’s also brought new corsairs of the curbside – Porch Pirates. This new breed of thieves steals unattended packages off of doorsteps or porches, with some even following behind delivery vans to grab anything dropped off.

In 2017, a report from InsuranceQuotes found that 26 million of you experienced a holiday package swiped from your front door. That’s almost 8-percent of you, and that number is only going to grow. Heck, even your fancy Ring doorbell won’t stop a determined thief.

I’ve had packages go missing from my apartment complex. While Amazon customer service is excellent about replacements, not all online retailers are so understanding. There are now two banks of Amazon Lockers in our Leasing Office, which has cut down the reports of theft dramatically. Still, not everyone has access to one of these. What if you could give your home the same functionality?

Enter BoxLock, an ingenious padlock that can only be unlocked by your incoming packages. No more worrying about unattended packages. No more waiting for a knock on the door that never comes. No more concerns about the weather.

Design

BoxLock uses a tamper-resistant zinc alloy under the yellow fiber-reinforced plastic. The shackle is hardened steel, just like any other padlock. The company says they’re using a proprietary locking mechanism that’s designed to be resistant to the techniques used to open other locks.

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

On the bottom edge, there’s the scanning sensors and a micro USB port to recharge the lock once it gets low. The non-removable battery lasts for 30-60 days before recharging, presumably depending on how often it’s used to scan.

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Scanning a package is done by pressing the button under the ridged area on the front below the shackle. BoxLock then checks the details of that package to make sure that it’s A. for you and B. scheduled out for delivery that day. If either of those returns a negative, it won’t open. That stops anyone who wants to get in for unsavory reasons from using old packaging from your trash, for example.

There’s an app for that

The BoxLock app helps you manage everything you need, and it’s pretty well laid out. Often apps for these kinds of devices feel like an afterthought.

Setup is simple. Download the app, and on the first run, you’ll be asked to create an account. Then you tap on the “Add a BoxLock” button on the home screen of the app. You’ll be prompted to press the button on the top of the BoxLock to activate Bluetooth, then to tap “next” for the last thing.

Then you add your WiFi details (if your phone is already connected to WiFi this will automatically fill).

boxlock app screens

Image: BoxLock

The last stage is to set up what BoxLock calls “Effortless Tracking.” First, you have to create accounts for the major carriers, if you don’t already have them. FedEx, UPS, and USPS all have accounts that let you change the delivery details even if you don’t ship anything out. They all need some specific settings turning on for BoxLock to be able to pick up incoming packages so make sure you read the instructions thoroughly.

The company recommends mentioning “Scan with BoxLock” in the delivery instructions in UPS My Choice, FedEx Delivery Manager, USPS Informed Delivery and Amazon Prime.

To finish the setup of Effortless Tracking, connect your email address(es) to the BoxLock app, so it can pick up tracking numbers in your inbox. You can also track Amazon packages if you connect the email that Amazon uses here. One minor caveat – it won’t work with POP3 email providers, only IMAP.

Other cool features

The app also lets you share a barcode with friends or family so you can leave things like parcels or a spare key inside the Boxlock-protected secure area.

You can get inside at any time either using Bluetooth to unlock it from the app or using the master barcode which is also in the app.

So should I buy it?

As long as online shopping continues to grow, porch pirates will be a problem needing a solution. BoxLock is one possible solution, and it works well. The company says they’re “actively working with all carriers to roll out education and informative programs” which is key to widespread adoption of the system.

Just like the adage about “leading a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” all the secure areas in the world won’t protect your packages if they’re unused by the people who deliver them.

At $129 per BoxLock, it’s down to how often you shop online and what price you put on your time when you have to deal with the eventual inconvenience of having a package swiped.


A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.


Editors’ Recommendations:

The Good
Easy to set up
Works by scanning package barcodes so no keys or owner input needed
Sturdy construction
The Bad
Needs buy-in from your delivery couriers
Doesn't support POP3 email accounts
7.8
Overall
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