New Law Strengthens NJ Penalties; Theft of Packages Common During Holiday Season
To combat porch package thefts, which are most popular during the holiday season, Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, Senator Gordon Johnson, and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji sponsored legislation to crack down on “porch pirate” crimes and bolster state penalties for package theft from New Jersey homes. The measure was signed into law on Tuesday.
“Package theft is a growing problem for online consumers,” said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “As the popularity of online shopping has increased, unfortunately, so has the act of stealing those deliveries from homes before residents retrieve them. This downside to having your purchases delivered, but not one should be without penalty and recourse.
“‘Porch piracy’ is a serious crime that can not only result in the loss of expensive gifts during the holiday season, it affects residents who order medication, and have legal documents and other important items delivered to their home. Taking delivery packages from a person’s property is just as invasive as breaking into a home to steal them,” continued Karabinchak.
According to a recent survey by Finder, roughly 14% of Americans say they have been victims of package theft in the last 12 months, which equates to about 35.5 million Americans and an average value of $156.82 being reported stolen. In total, according to the survey, Americans lost about $5.4 billion from package theft over the past 12 months courtesy of porch pirates.
“Online shopping is very convenient for busy families. Unfortunately, an unguarded package on a front stoop can be tempting for the unscrupulous,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Stronger penalties can help discourage package thieves and also ensure the penalties under the law match the severity of the crime.”
“Package delivery is easier for many seniors and disabled residents who are unable to leave home to just run to the store or the pharmacy,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Having their packages stolen from their front step could mean waiting a long time for medicine they rely on. With this new law, a so-called “porch pirate” will have to pay a price for taking a package that does not belong to them.”
The law previously provided that ‘theft by unlawful taking’ is a theft offense graded by the value of the property taken.
The new law (formerly bill A-3870), named the “Defense Against Porch Pirate Act,” would make theft of a delivered package containing an item of any amount under $75,000, or is of an undetermined amount, a crime of the third degree, which would upgrade the crime for the vast majority of packages taken from residential properties. A crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.