Behind The Poll:

New legislation to target porch pirates

A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to increase penalties for porch pirates amid a surge in thefts of packages left for delivery.

“With the ongoing pandemic, online purchases have skyrocketed,” Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) said.

Thomas cited a 2019 report that found more than one-third of Americans who have ordered items online have had their packages stolen, while a separate survey in 2021 estimated the value of stolen packages to be about $210 million.

The situation prompted Thomas to partner with Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub to do something about it. Current law bases penalties for mail fraud on the value of the items stolen, but forthcoming legislation from Thomas aims to create specific crimes for porch pirates that takes into account prior offenses.

“As we’ve come to depend on commerce by mail in this digital age, package theft is growing, and that’s creating a need for a law specifically aimed at ‘porch piracy’ to more accurately reflect our societal values and deter these thieves through increased criminal penalties,” Weintraub said.

Thomas’ bill would create penalties for theft of mail involving a package, bag or letter that would result in a summary charge for a first offense involving merchandise valued at less than $150. If the merchandise is worth more than $150, or the act is a second offense, the potential penalty would increase to a second-degree misdemeanor.

A third offense under the legislation would result in a third-degree felony, regardless of value.
-By Victor Skinner