News & Updates

Karabinchak Introduces “Porch Pirate” Bill to Crack Down on Theft of Delivery Packages

Feb 15, 2019

TRENTON, NJ –  – In 2017, 25.9 million Americans had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep—more than the 23.5 million porch thefts reported in 2015. The number of package thefts occurring across the nation continues to rise with each passing year.

To combat these thefts, which are most popular during the holiday season, Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak has introduced legislation to crack down on “porch pirate” crimes and bolster state penalties for package theft from New Jersey homes.

“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 is a downside to having your purchases delivered, but not one that should be without penalty and recourse.

A national packaging company reported in a survey of 1,000 consumers that 31% of those surveyed have had a package stolen, and 41% said they do not buy certain products online because they fear that the items will be stolen if left outside their front door.

“‘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,” continued Karabinchak.

Currently, law provides that theft by unlawful taking is a theft offense graded by the value of the property taken.

Aiming to apply more stringent penalties than other types of theft by unlawful taking offenses, Assemblyman Karabinchak’ s bill (A-5072) upgrades the law to increase penalties for unlawful taking of a package delivered to a residential property by a cargo carrier to a fourth degree crime if the amount taken does not exceed $200. If the amount taken does exceed $200, the persons would be guilty of a crime one degree higher that the underlying offense.

The bill also provides for restitution; presently, this is only an option for the sentencing judge.


Local law enforcement has been proactive in taking steps to stop thefts and catch “Porch Pirates” in the act. For instance, Jersey City last December employed fake Amazon boxes equipped with surveillance cameras and GPS units, placing them outside houses in areas where multiple thefts occurred.

“Common decency would dictate that a person would not take what doesn’t belong to them. However, an unguarded package on a front step can be too tempting for some dishonest individuals. Taking delivery packages from a person’s property is just as invasive as breaking into a home to steal them,” Karabinchak said. “Stronger penalties could help discourage “porch pirates” from stealing packages but, more importantly, these changes will align the penalties with the severity of the crime.”

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Democrat Robert J. Karabinchak was appointed to the New Jersey General Assembly in May 2016 and re-elected in 2017. Prior to representing the 18thLegislative District, he served the residents of Edison for 16 years, including eight as a member of the Township Council and eight prior years on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Karabinchak served multiple terms as Council President; a member of the council’s Finance, Open Space and Master Plan committees, and is a former Middlesex County Utilities Authority commissioner.

Karabinchak is the President of Tri-Form Construction, a contracting firm based in Metuchen. He has been honored for his long-time commitment to promoting affordable housing. He is also an outspoken advocate for statewide property tax reform. He has publicly promoted changes to New Jersey’s commercial tax appeal process to prevent it from shifting a greater financial burden onto homeowners.

He has been honored by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Public Works Association for promoting essential infrastructure improvements throughout Edison.

A resident and small business owner in the Edison/Metuchen area for over 30 years, Karabinchak and his wife Linda, are the parents of three adult children, Steven, Brian and Lori.

He represents the 18thLegislative District, which includes the Middlesex County municipalities of East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, South Plainfield, and South River.