In recent years, more and more people in California and all the other states in the country order their holiday gifts online, rather than spend hours in crowded malls and shops competing with other shoppers for the same merchandise.
According to Business Insider, holiday e-commerce sales resulted in a total of $126 billion in 2018, which is a 16.5 percent increase compared to 2017. Digital agency NetElixir stated Amazon was responsible for approximately 40 percent of all holiday sales.
However, this holiday shopping phenomenon has also led to an increase in a new type of thief known as the “porch pirate.” These individuals either wait until packages to be delivered to unoccupied homes or drive/walk through the neighborhood to search for unattended packages located near someone's front door or their porch.
Penalties for Porch Piracy in California
Stealing another person's package from any part of their home falls under California's theft laws. This means stealing merchandise worth $950 or less is considered petty theft, which is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum six-month jail term and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Yet, if the item was worth $50 at most, a state prosecutor can charge the theft crime as an infraction, which carries a maximum $250 fine. Additionally, stealing an item worth over $950 is known as grand theft, which is a felony offense punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years.
Earlier this year, California lawmakers attempted to make porch piracy a burglary crime under Assembly Bill 1210. Entering a porch or “curtilage” area of a home (e.g. doorstep, driveway, patio, yard, etc.) with the intent to steal a package would result in burglary charges.
According to the current burglary laws, there are two types of burglary offenses: first- or second-degree burglary. While second-degree burglary carries the same penalties as a felony theft offense, first-degree burglary results in a prison sentence of up to two, four, or six years upon conviction.
Please, Think Twice Before Taking Someone's Package
Since holiday shopping is an expensive endeavor, many people may consider taking an unattended package and either regifting it or selling it off for a profit. Remember, many homes are equipped with doorbell cameras and security systems to thwart suspected thieves, burglars, and robbers.
Furthermore, if a homeowner is gone for a long period of time, he/she may ask the neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. So, no matter how desperate you become, you will surely be recorded, watched, and eventually caught for theft.
Keep in mind, the best gift you can give to your loved ones is your time and love. However, if you are accused of porch piracy in Ventura, our legal team at Wilfert Law P.C. is willing to help you avoid spending your holiday season behind bars.
For more information about porch piracy, contact us today at (805) 994-0560.