As online retailing has grown, more and more people are ordering everything from dog treats to luxury items from online retailers to be delivered straight to their doorstep or to someone else’s. Unfortunately, “porch piracy” has become a growing phenomenon as well.
What is Porch Piracy?
Porch piracy is the theft of a package from someone’s front doorstep. However, it refers to the theft of a letter, mail, box, or bag from a person’s home exterior or mailbox.
According to a study by Insurancequotes.com, approximately 25.9 million Americans have had packages stolen from their porch or mailbox. The highest number of package thefts happen during the holidays.
Shorr Packaging Corp., authors of an extensive package theft study, sought to identify the worst places in America for package theft by looking at geo-targeted Google search data. Their study ranked Atlanta number nine overall in stolen Amazon packages.
Who commits these thefts?
Some individuals will drive around to see who has packages left on their porch. Some people follow the mail trucks or delivery company vehicles and go right behind them and pick up parcels that they see delivered.
USPS Mail tampering is a federal offense
Tamper with the United States Post Office mail is a federal criminal offense. Theft of mail is a federal crime, a felony that could result in prison time, losing the right to vote or hold public office, and significant fines.
Delivery services such as FedEx, UPS, and Amazon don’t fall under federal protection; they are handled at the state level
The most common type of theft is theft by taking. Georgia statute defines theft by taking as occurring when a person “unlawfully takes or, being in unlawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another intending to deprive him of the property, regardless of how the property is taken or appropriated.” (Georgia Code § 16-8-2.) The penalty for Georgia’s “theft by taking” law could be elevated to a felony, depending on the value of the item stolen.
- A theft offense involving property valued at $500 or less is punishable as a misdemeanor under Georgia code § 16-8-12. Punishment for misdemeanor theft is a fine of not more than $1,000 and imprisonment of not more than 12 months under Georgia code § 17-10-3.
- A theft offense involving property valued at more than $500is punishable as a felony, or a misdemeanor, at the judge’s discretion under Georgia code § 17-10-5. If it is charged as a felony, the theft carries a sentence of imprisonment of one to not more than ten years.
Consumers have gotten severe about apprehending package thieves by:
- Installing security cameras and a video doorbell. Cameras could capture images of the thieves and may be helpful in the identification and possible prosecution.
- Installing motion-activated lights: Although package theft can occur at any time of the day or night, porch pirates who work at night will be revealed by a sensor activated light.
If you’re facing prosecution for package theft, you cannot assume it will be treated as a misdemeanor. You should consult with an experienced Lagrange criminal defense attorney such as Tyler Moffit to determine your rights and learn about your options.
Tyler Moffitt is a Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices Carrollton, LaGrange, and Columbus, GA. He graduated from John Marshall Law School, and has been practicing for several years now. Tyler Moffitt takes great honor in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.