ATLANTA (AP) — Porch pirates beware.
The Georgia legislature on Wednesday gave final passage to a bill that would make stealing multiple packages or pieces of mail from different addresses a felony punishable by up to five years behind bars, though trial judges would have the discretion to reduce it to a misdemeanor.
The state House agreed to Senate changes on House Bill 94 by a vote of 103-59, sending the bill to Gov. Brian Kemp for consideration.
The bill creates the crime of porch piracy, defined as taking three or more packages from three or more different addresses. It would be a felony punishable by one to five years in prison, no matter the value of the items stolen, unless a trial judge intervened to downgrade the crime to a misdemeanor.
The same punishment would be applicable for someone found to be in possession of 10 or more pieces of mail from three or more different addresses.
Supporters say the legislation is needed to combat organized theft rings, especially as people have become more reliant on home deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An earlier version of the bill would have made it a felony to steal a single package off someone’s porch, no matter the value. But changes were made after critics raised concerns that the bill was overly harsh for what could be a relatively minor theft.
The bill was amended in order to specify that the theft had to be three packages from three different addresses, “thus better ensuring that we are actually targeting true crime rings and porch pirates,” Republican Rep. Bonnie Rich, the bill’s chief sponsor, said.