The Problem with Pilfering Packages

December 6, 2017 · by rosenblumlawfirm · in

Each year the proportion of holiday gifts (or products in general) purchased online surges. According to Adobe Digital Insights, shoppers spent about $6.6 billion in online purchases on Cyber Monday, which is $1 billion more than was spent that day in 2016.

As shoppers get increasingly comfortable with having packages left at their door while they are at work, there is a growing trend in what is colloquially called “porch piracy”—the act of stealing packages off people’s doorsteps. For some criminals, snagging unattended boxes while people are at work seems like easy pickings. Others see it as a victimless crime, since retailers like Amazon.com have customer-friendly replacement policies.

Victimless or not, this is a crime that carries serious consequences. The exact penalties depend on who delivered the package and how much the items are valued at. For example, stealing anything delivered by the U.S. Postal Service is considered mail tampering. This is a federal felony offense under U.S. Code Section 1708. Punishment for a conviction carries up to $250,000 in fines and a possible prison sentence of no more than five years.

If the package was delivered via private carriers, including FedEx, UPS and other independent contractors, then the charge would be theft by unlawful taking (N.J.S.C. 2C:20-3). For items valued at less than $200, you could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the items are valued between $201 and $500, the penalties are up to $10,000 in fines and up to 18 months in prison. Theft of more pricy items—those valued at less than $75,000—can mean a fine of up to $10,000 and a possible prison sentence of three to five years.

In order to be convicted of theft by unlawful taking, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the one who took the items and that you did not have explicit permission to do so. Defending against such charges can be serious and requires the aid of a skilled attorney. If you or someone you love has been charged with theft for stealing packages, call the Rosenblum Law Firm right away. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience helping people in situations like yours. Call 888-979-7551 or email today for a free consultation about your case.