Don’t Mess with Texas… especially if you’re a porch pirate.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott recently signed HB 37, a bill that makes mail theft a state felony and specifically includes packages left on doorsteps.
Here’s what porch pirates are facing under the new law:
- A Class A misdemeanor if the mail is appropriated from fewer than 10 addresses.
- A state jail felony if the mail is appropriated from at least 10 but fewer than 30 addresses.
- A felony of the third degree if the mail is appropriated from 30 or more addresses.
Penalties under the new law range from a year in jail and/or a $4000 maximum fine to a 10-year prison sentence and an optional $10,000 fine for the most serious offenders.
Now if it turns out that the thieves are stealing mail for purposes of identity theft/fraud, then the penalties increase significantly and instantly become felonies. There is also a provision in the law that adds additional penalties if the victims are disabled or elderly.
The law is geared more toward professional thieves who steal mail for identity theft purposes rather than petty criminals, but the penalties are putting all porch pirates on alert and should have them thinking twice before perpetrating their crimes.
Amazon has come out in favor of the bill and aims to help other states establish similar laws.
HB 37 will go into effect September 1, 2019.