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Porch Pirates: New Texas Law Makes It a Felony to Steal Packages

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Those who steal packages from people’s front porches in the state of Texas will soon have something more than social media embarrassment to content with. Otherwise known as “porch pirates,” their act of stealing anything from those who are awaiting mail or deliveries will become a felony, effective September 1, 2019.

Becoming almost a weekly share online, the news of people taking packages that are delivered to the front stoops and porches of others has become quite common. In the last week alone, a story was published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting that a man had taken boxes of school supplies which were ordered for a special needs class and had been purchased by their teacher. He had taken them just nine minutes after their delivery, as the security footage displayed.

Porch Pirates: New Texas Law Makes It a Felony to Steal Packages

Photo: Flickr/Beck Gusler

The homeowner, Ashleigh Powell, said in an interview with www.wsbtv.com, “I work on a special-needs campus and spend a good amount of money making sure they have the supplies they need. So this year we started off with less than we had hoped but we will replace it at some point.” Powell further stated that her neighborhood appears to be targeted quite frequently, and she has had other packages go missing from her front porch. As a result of the uptick in front porch stealing, Texas State Representative Ina Minjarez, co-authored Texas House Bill 37 to increase penalties for porch pirate activities, citing that even her offices have been the target of such stealing.

Porch Pirates: New Texas Law Makes It a Felony to Steal Packages

Photo: Barksdale Air Force Base

As a result of the bill, as of September 1, 2019, it will be considered a felony for those who take anything considered to be mail (i.e. packages, letters, and even postcards) at varying degrees depending on the number of counts. It will become a state felony if someone steals from fewer than 10 people. It will become a second-degree felony if they steal from 20-50 people. And it will be a first-degree felony if they steal from over 50 people. If convicted, the prison sentence can be anywhere from six months to 10 years, as well as a fine ranging from $4,000 up to $10,000. Charges can also be upgraded if it’s found that there has been any identify theft involved or if the victim is elderly. Prior to September 1, 2019, the act of stealing mail was considered a misdemeanor, with only a ticket as penalty, under Texas state law, though it was technically a felony under federal law.