Senator Jones’s measure to increase penalties on “Porch Pirates” clears key Senate committee

Thefts of delivered packages containing medicine and food on the rise

Senate Bill 358, a measure by Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee) to increase penalties for package theft, was unanimously approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee.

“Since the COVID-19 crisis began, home delivery of packages has dramatically increased across the nation.  Seniors and disabled Californians in particular rely on package delivery for fundamental items such as medication and food,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones. "Unfortunately, package theft has become its own epidemic, with 30% of package thefts nationwide occurring here in California. Greater punishments and deterrents against ‘porch piracy’ are needed.  Senate Bill 358 will allow judges the option to treat theft of packages delivered by private carriers just like mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.”

Under current law, theft of packages (or mail) delivered by private carriers is only considered petty theft and is charged as a misdemeanor with a maximum available jail sentence of 6 months, even for serial “porch pirates.”  However, theft of packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service currently can be punished by up to one year in jail.  SB 358 simply conforms the law to provide for a consistent maximum sentence of up to one year, regardless of whether the package (or mail) was delivered by a private carrier or the U.S. Postal Service.

SB 358 is supported by the California State Sheriff’s Association and the Peace Officers Research Association of California.  It goes next to the Senate Appropriations Committee for hearing.