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“Porch piracy” can be a serious offense in Colorado

Tis the season for lots and lots of packages to be delivered to households and businesses everywhere. It happens every year around the holiday season, and this year is expected to see bigger-than-normal home deliveries as people everywhere are increasingly doing their holiday shopping online.

This time of year brings out another regular occurrence: The return of “porch pirates” who scour affluent neighborhoods and businesses looking for packages that have been delivered. They swoop in and make off with whatever unattended delivery boxes they can grab, hoping to resell their loot later.

The charges may reflect what was taken

Because porch piracy is a relatively recent phenomenon, only a few states have created special laws to address it. While there have been suggestions that Colorado should enact tougher laws and penalties against porch piracy, the state currently prosecutes and punishes those who are caught according to the value of what they stole.

If the items in the boxes are worth less than $2,000, the crime is generally treated like a misdemeanor — but one that still carries a potential for up to a $5,000 fine and 18 months in jail.

Even so, package theft has the potential to be charged as a federal crime if the package was delivered by the U.S. Postal Service (instead of UPS, FedEx or Amazon, for example). If an offender is sentenced under federal law for the theft, they can be handed a $250,000 fine and five years in prison.

Colorado Springs police have already been hard at work this year to stop this kind of theft. Just recently, two men from the area were spotted stealing packages and arrested after a brief police chase. They’re now facing multiple charges for a variety of offenses, so it would be a mistake to think that the authorities are too preoccupied with more “serious” crimes to pay attention to package theft.

If you’re accused of porch piracy or another kind of property theft, there are potential defenses available to you. A criminal defense attorney can tell you more.