New state law could send 'porch pirates' to prison - FOX34 Lubbock

New state law could send 'porch pirates' to prison

LUBBOCK, Texas -

A warning to package thieves, you could face prison time.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 37 into law last week, making it a felony to steal mail or packages from someone's property.

Sergeant Mark Wims with the Lubbock Police Department said package theft has been on the rise over the last few years,

"It's picked up more than it used to, simply because there's more people using online ordering," Wims said.

The punishment varies on how many items are stolen and their value. Under current law, package theft is prosecuted as a class C misdemeanor or class B misdemeanor.

With the new law, porch thieves could face anywhere from six months to 10 years in prison, and fines ranging from $4,000 to $10,000.

"If you took less than 10 items, it's a class A misdemeanor," Tom Brummett, assistant district attorney for the Lubbock DA's Office, said. "If you took 10 to 29 items, it's a state jail felony. If you take 30 or up, it's a third degree."

The new bill is a step in the right direction, Wims said.

"It gives us a little more bite when we do catch them," he said.

However, he said it may not serve to deter many criminals in the area.

"We have plenty of laws on the books against thieving now, and it hadn't stopped a lot of people from stealing," Wims said.

Nonetheless, Brummett said he hopes the law will give some people peace of mind.

"Knowing that if that does happen, and we're able to go after those people, that the law gives us the resources to be able to," Brummett said.

Only time will tell whether the stiffer penalties will discourage "porch piracy," Wims said. The law goes into effect Sept. 1.

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