Rather than spending hours shopping—or even trying to find parking—at overcrowded malls and stores, millions of Americans do their holiday shopping on the internet. According to 2018 survey by Internet Retailer and Bizrate Insights, approximately 60 percent of consumers plan to spend over half of their holiday shopping online.
However, online shoppers are constantly dealing with a new threat known as “porch pirates.” This type of thief steals packages that have just been delivered to a customer’s home—even in broad daylight—or packages left unattended in an empty home.
In May 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbots signed a law that made porch piracy a felony offense in the state. The law went into effect on September 1.
The following are the penalties for porch piracy in Texas:
- If packages were stolen from fewer than 10 addresses – Considered a state jail felony, punishable by a state jail sentence between 180 days and two years, and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.
- If packages were stolen from between 10 and fewer than 20 addresses – Considered a third-degree felony, which carries a prison term between two and ten years, and/or a fine no more than $10,000.
- If packages were stolen from between 20 and fewer than 50 addresses – Considered a second-degree felony, punishable by a prison sentence between two and 20 years, and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000.
- If packages were stolen from 50 addresses or more – Considered a first-degree felony, which carries a prison sentence between five to 99 years, and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.
Many porch pirates are caught and identified through a homeowner’s doorbell camera or security system. Additionally, neighbors often keep an eye out for any suspicious activity in their neighborhood, especially if it has been reported.