News & Updates

‘Porch Pirate’ Bill Looks To Toughen Penalties For NJ Thefts

Feb 15, 2019

Have you had an online shopping order go missing? You’re not alone— and one NJ lawmaker wants to make penalties harsher for “porch pirates.”

Katie Kausch,
Patch Staff
Verified Patch Staff Badge
Posted Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 2:18 pm ET
Updated Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 2:28 pm ET JERSEY — Did you order something online this holiday season that never showed up? You might have fallen victim to a “porch pirate,” and a New Jersey lawmaker wants to toughen penalties for package thieves.

The so-called “porch pirate” bill, introduced by Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, proposes making all package thefts either third or fourth degree crimes based on the value of the item. Currently, the severity of the charges depend on what was taken. The new bill would also create a path for restitution.

“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.”

Porch piracy is common: 31 percent of online shoppers have had a package stolen, and 41 percent have avoided buying something online because they fear it going missing.

Such thefts have made headlines: In 2015, a package containing a quilt made out of a fallen Marine’s old t-shirts was stolen from an Edison family’s front porch. That package was later found by police and returned to the family, but some victims aren’t so lucky. This month, a thief stole a box containing a teen’s $40,000 cancer medication off his Nevada front porch. Police are still searching for that package.

On a smaller scale, the theft of Amazon packages grabbed attention around New Jersey this holiday season; police in several towns arrested “porch pirates.”

“‘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,” Karabinchak said.

The bill (A-5072) has been referred to the Assembly judicial committee.