Parcel theft in Georgia a criminal offense |  New legal guidelines

ATLANTA – Porch pirates can now be charged with a crime in the state of Georgia.

A “porch pirate” is a term used to describe someone who steals delivered packages from someone else’s porch or front door.

HB 94 states it is now a Peach State crime involving up to five years in prison for someone convicted of theft by possession of stolen mail. The law allows a person to be charged with the crime by taking three or more packages, envelopes, or other related items off another person’s porch, steps, or mailbox without their permission.

The law was signed by Governor Brian Kemp on May 10th and went into effect on July 1st.

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The bill also states that anyone who has 10 or more pieces of mail from at least three different addresses or PO boxes can be charged with theft from possession of stolen mail.

Each set of ten different stolen mail addressed to three or more different locations is considered a separate crime by law.

However, HB 94 gives the judges a margin of discretion to decide that some cases will be considered a misdemeanor.

Georgia isn’t the first state to take these measures. Other states like Oklahoma and Texas have also declared a third package theft a crime.

As more people rely on package deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporters say the measures are needed to tackle theft. Some critics consider the proposal too harsh.

Rep. Bonnie Rich is a Republican from Suwanee who represents District 97. Rich sponsored the bill, and she said prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute parcel theft cases because stealing items worth less than $ 1,500 is an offense, even if it’s something very sensitive as one Driver’s license.

Opponents of the bill said the measure “over-criminalizes” a crime of little value and curtails Georgia’s efforts to be less criminal.

East Point Democrat House Minority Whip William Boddie warns that a teenager could ruin their life for making poor choices.