California

Package Theft Bill Being Reworked as ‘Porch Pirates’ Become More Brazen

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Thieves who steal packages from people’s porches or mailboxes are a constant holiday problem, but this year was supposed to be different.

A bill was introduced earlier this year to raise package theft to a higher level of crime, even a felony.

The bill, AB 1210, was designed to deal out harsher punishments and act as a stronger deterrent toward so-called porch pirates. But the legislation was blocked.

Police agencies and victims say thieves are becoming more brazen than ever.

In the case of Alison Casanova of San Jose, the thief waited until the mail delivery man left then sauntered up to the porch, covering his face from the camera.

"And he knew he was doing it, and he knew he was being filmed," Casanova said. "So that tells me he was casing the house, too, because how would you know I had a camera right there."

But now, even thieves who are caught face a punishment equal to only a citation. South Bay Assemblyman Evan Low introduced a bill, co-authored by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, in February to raise the crime to the level of breaking and entering and as high as a felony.

The bill was blocked and is being reworked after other lawmakers said a suspect’s prior criminal record and the value of the stolen merchandise need to be considered.

Low, Rosen and police officers were disappointed the proposed new law wouldn't be ready for this holiday season.

Last week, Milpitas police used a decoy package and caught an alleged thief within minutes.

"Any bill that helps our efforts to fight crime is great, but we still have a job to do regardless of what the laws are and what the bills are," said John Torres, spokesman for the Milpitas Police Department.

Casanova added: "It would be nice if we could have something change sooner rather than later because it sounds like it's getting worse."

Low’s office said the reworked bill should be ready for consideration by mid-January.

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