How UPS uses artificial intelligence to fight package theft

An estimated 260 million packages went missing in the U.S. last year, according to Safewise, many taken right from the front door while a camera captured the theft. As the holiday season kicks into high gear, package theft is a major concern, and a shipping company is using artificial intelligence to combat porch pirates.

Almost one in four adults has had a package stolen in the past 12 months, says a survey by Finder. Theft can be an even more serious problem if these packages contain necessities, such as medicine or expensive items.

“This time of year we send a lot of gifts, so each package is very special to the person who receives it,” said Tarek Saab, president of Texas Precious Metals, whose company sends items such as silver bullion and gold coins.

This year, Saab is using a new UPS data program called DeliveryDefense, which he says helps them identify addresses likely to be targets for theft.

UPS gave CBS News a look at how the program works.

The AI-powered program takes a recipient’s address and produces a score – a higher score indicates a higher probability of a successful delivery. The scores are created using years of data from previous deliveries and other factors.

For addresses with a low score, the retailer may redirect the item, with the customer’s approval, to a UPS store or other pickup locations.

“About 2% of addresses will be considered low trust, and we see that represents about 30% of our customers’ losses,” Mark Robinson, president of UPS Capital, told CBS News.

At Texas Precious Metals, Saab believes the technology can reduce these numbers.

“We recognize that it’s computers versus criminals, and we have to use all the technical capabilities that we have to try to circumvent the challenges that we might encounter,” he said.

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