"During the COVID-19 crisis, vulnerable individuals unable to leave their home rely on package delivery for essential items such as medication and food"
East County News Service
Photo: Creative Commons by SA-NC
May 20, 2020 (Sacramento) - Today, the Senate Public Safety Committee voted down State Senator Brian Jones' (R-Santee) Senate Bill 979, a measure to increase the penalties on persons who steal packages from the porch or entryway of someone's home.
"Some of the most vulnerable in our community, such as seniors and disabled individuals, rely on home delivery of goods for survival. During the COVID-19 crisis, vulnerable individuals unable to leave their home rely on package delivery for essential items such as medication and food," stated Senator Jones. "Unfortunately, an increase in package delivery has also led to an increase in package theft from outside Californians' homes. This 'porch piracy' epidemic is serious and needs to be addressed by our criminal justice system. Current law is weak on the punishment of this type of theft but this bill would have increased the consequences significantly," Jones notes.
Current law provides that a theft of a package from the porch or entryway of someone's home is merely a misdemeanor, no matter how many repeat convictions the perpetrator may have on their record. SB 979 would have allowed prosecutors to charge the perpetrator ("porch pirate") with a misdemeanor or with a felony in the third or subsequent conviction during a 36-month period.
While the majority-party members of the Senate Public Safety Committee acknowledged the problem of increased porch piracy and the need to address it in California, they never-the-less voted down SB 979.
"Some of these so-called 'porch pirates' are habitual offenders who keep dodging real punishment for their actions because thefts from outside a home are treated differently under current law than burglaries committed inside a home," continued Jones. "California often leads the nation in policy, and this needs to be one of those times. While the committee agreed porch piracy is a problem in the state, unfortunately, the committee did not agree that these offenders deserve a punishment that's fit for their crime."
SB 979 was defeated in Senate Public Safety on a 2-5 party line vote.
Residents concerned about porch piracy may wish to consider options such as requiring a signature for deliveries, a secure locking mailbox large enough for small parcels, and/or a security camera or doorbell camera, which have enabled law enforcement to identify and catch some local porch pirates.