Bill making porch piracy a felony passes Georgia House

Under a bill the Georgia House passed Wednesday, stealing a package from someone’s front porch would become a felony punishable by one to five years in prison.

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Under a bill the Georgia House passed Wednesday, stealing a package from someone’s front porch would become a felony punishable by one to five years in prison.

Stealing a package from someone’s front porch would become a felony in Georgia punishable by one to five years in prison under a bill the state House passed on Wednesday.

Supporters of the porch piracy measure said it would help crack down on the rise in package thefts from Amazon and other retailers, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

But opponents of the legislation said it would further criminalize petty crimes, resulting in more people facing incarceration.

The House voted 101-67 to approve House Bill 94, which now advances to the state Senate.

State Rep. Chuck Efstration said the legislation would target criminals who are stealing packages from multiple homes and trespassing on their property.

“What if you’re inside the home, waiting for your medication inside that package? What if you don’t get it because someone took it off your porch?” said Efstration, a Republican from Dacula. “This is a real-world impact for Georgians.”

The bill’s critics said there are better ways to respond to crime than tougher prison sentences, including investments in health care and education.

“There are so many ways we can respond to social problems,” said state Rep. Josh McLaurin, a Democrat from Atlanta. “It’s one thing to say we need tools and we need resources. It’s another thing to walk in the shoes of the people who don’t have our comfortable homes to go home to and elaborate porches to sit on.”

Under current law, stealing a package would normally be charged under theft statutes.

The legislation that passed Wednesday would make porch piracy a distinct crime.

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