Should Tennessee get tougher on porch pirates?

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A new Michigan law aims to deter porch pirates, making repeat offenses a felony.

That got us thinking here at News 2, what are the consequences of porch piracy currently and when, if at all, will Tennessee follow Michigan’s lead?

Under Michigan’s law, it’s now a state-level crime to steal mail, including packages left on doorsteps, meaning package thieves could see prison time.

First-time offenders will see a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. Repeat offenders could face a felony charge, a maximum sentence of up to five years behind bars.

“Michigan law does not impose a felony charge onto a teenager that gives into temptation and it shouldn’t,” State Representative, Mike Stewart said.

Let’s break it down for you: In Tennessee just like every other U.S state, if you take anything associated with USPS, you could face a felony charge because it’s a federal crime, but packages from other carriers like Amazon and FedEx don’t rise to the felony level.

Now, here’s where things get a bit trickier. In Tennessee, the value of the stolen item determines the consequence between a misdemeanor and felony.

According to state law, if the stolen item is less than $1,000 the person responsible would be charged with a misdemeanor, moving to a felony after that, see below:

39-14-105. Grading of theft.

(a)  Theft of property or services is:(1)  A Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property or services obtained is one thousand dollars ($1,000) or less;(2)  A Class E felony if the value of the property or services obtained is more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) but less than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500);(3)  A Class D felony if the value of the property or services obtained is two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) or more but less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000);(4)  A Class C felony if the value of the property or services obtained is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more but less than sixty thousand dollars ($60,000);(5)  A Class B felony if the value of the property or services obtained is sixty thousand dollars ($60,000) or more but less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000); and(6)  A Class A felony if the value of the property or services obtained is two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) or more.

“I think we should look into it, I think we have to be careful,” Rep Stewart said. “A ring leader who comes up with a criminal conspiracy to steal thousands of dollars in packages from people who have worked hard obviously that sounds like a felony and we need to make sure our laws reflect this type of crime​,” Rep Stewart said.

The state of Washington and Idaho have similar laws, where stealing a package off of a porch is only considered a felony if the item in the box is more than $750 or more than $1,000, respectively.

California, New Jersey, and South Carolina are also working to address porch piracy with new laws. Texas just recently enacted one as well.

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