The crooks who snatch packages from people’s property, known as porch pirates, often face minimal punishment for the offense but a newly proposed California law would crack down on the perpetrators.
According to San Luis Obispo police, the number of reported package thefts has been rising steadily as e-commerce becomes more popular.
“We have seen an increase and I think that goes across all cities probably in the county that this is a common occurrence that’s happening,” said San Luis Obispo Police Department Lt. Brian Amoroso.
For victims, the crime isn’t just about stolen property but a stolen sense of security.
“We try to watch out for that and to know it was just a block away was concerning,” Paso Robles resident Dennis Gallagher told KSBY recently.
SLOPD receives a lot of calls about stolen packages. More now than ever.
“Most people’s front yards and front porches are unsecured so it creates a pretty easy avenue for a criminal looking to make a quick theft,” Amoroso said.
Theft is exactly what this crime is considered today. If the item is worth less than $950, it’s a misdemeanor, which rarely means jail time.
An Arroyo Grande man who had his packages stolen said the current law is equivalent to a slap on the wrist.
“We know who our thief was and it’s been reported with photo proof but nothing is being done because it’s a slap on the wrist and the resources to investigate are better spent elsewhere,” said Jeff Madden. “That doesn’t get our $1,400 back but welcome to the California way.”
Now, a law proposed for the State of California would classify a porch as an extension of the home, meaning package pirates would be considered burglars.
As a burglary, the crook could be charged with a felony and face a year in jail.
“I think it would be a good idea. It would certainly enhance the penalty to burglary, a much more severe crime instead of a simple theft,” Amoroso said. “Anything we can do to make things more severe and detract people from committing the crimes would hopefully lower the crime rate and make our city safer.”
According to the proposed bill in its current form, the law applies to packages delivered to a porch, doorstep, patio, stoop, driveway, hallway, or enclosed yard.
The Assembly bill is set for a hearing in committee on March 24.