FL: Proposed bill aims to make package theft a felony in Florida

Porch pirate theft is increasing and now Florida lawmakers want to crack down on the crime.

Have you ever ordered anything from Amazon and worried that thieves may get to it on your porch before you do?

Porch pirate theft is increasing and now Florida lawmakers want to crack down on the crime.

Each year, about 260 million packages are stolen from front porches.

That’s about $20 billion nationwide. The new bill would make it a felony to steal anything valued at more than $40.

John Lacey of Cape Coral often receives a lot of Amazon deliveries and said he supports the bill.

“If you’re going to steal something for $40, you’re probably going to do it higher than that, too,” Lacey said.

He fears porch pirates might get to his items first.

“I have a Ring camera so I could see them if they run away,” Lacey said.

Despite the cameras, people are still getting caught in the act.

A Golden Gate Estates resident recently reported a porch pirate scaling her 8-foot-high fence and ignoring no-trespassing signs. Cameras caught the thief stealing boxes from the property.

House Bill 549 would charge porch pirates as felons, similar to stealing from the U.S. Postal Service.

“The U.S. Postal Service takes the theft of mail very seriously and we ask customers to report every incident by calling our 800 number or going online to file a complaint,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Blanca Alvarez.

As home package deliveries increase, so do thefts.

Republican State Representative Bob Rommel said the theft is becoming an epidemic nationwide.

Rommel’s bill also focuses on smash-and-grab mobs breaking into stores and stealing merchandise.

“With this bill, I think we’re going to deter whether it’s the porch pirates or smash and grab mob type scenes where people are overtaking a store,” Rommel said.

Some Democrats, however, oppose the bill, saying it’s too severe for first-time offenders stealing a $40 package and labeled a felon for life.

“I think Florida is more strict on punishing people for things like that,” Lacey concluded.

By Dave Elias – NBC-2 Reporter

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