New law aims to increase penalties for porch pirates

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's become one of the most well-documented crimes and infuriating for homeowners on the other side of the screen.

Cameras are capturing more and more porch pirates in the act, but it's not stopping thieves.

"They are happening every day of the week it seems like," said Sgt. Jim Munro with Clovis Police.

Police say under the current law package thefts generally come with a light penalty.

The stolen goods have to total more than $950 for the suspect to be charged with a felony.

"With this new law, it could be charged either way. Whereas, if it was $949, currently, it's only going to be a misdemeanor, you'll likely get a ticket and walk," Sgt. Munro said.

A new proposed law would treat package theft more like burglary. A person's porch would be considered an extension of their home and prosecutors could file the charge either as a misdemeanor or a felony.

But legal analyst Tony Capozzi questions is it's actually effective.

"I'm not even sure it's needed. What it does is elevate the misdemeanor offense of stealing off of someone's porch from a six-month maximum sentence to a one-year maximum sentence," Capozzi said.

Police say any new tool helps. But the best deterrent still depends on the homeowners themselves and to know when something is arriving in the mail.

"A lot of times that's what they are doing, they are driving down the street either following the truck or looking on doorsteps to see if there are packages there," Sgt. Munro said.

If you order a package from Amazon, there are alerts you can set up on your phone to let you know when it's been delivered.

In cases where there is video, officers say they have a high success rate making an arrest.
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