HONOLULU (KHON2) — A proposal to stop porch pirates from stealing packages and other mail is moving forward at the state legislature. Lawmakers say the problem continues to grow, in part, due to the pandemic.
There’s already a federal law that addresses mail theft. State lawmakers said this proposal covers all other types of mail including packages being delivered, which has been a growing problem.
The proposal moving forward at the State Capitol makes it a misdemeanor to steal mail or packages from someone’s home or business. Lawmakers said it covers a loophole with the existing federal law.
“There’s some question about how far it covers, whether it’s in the box itself, whether it applies to things like UPS or FedEx or DHL.,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So this bill makes that clear that it’s everybody, all common carriers, and it’s stuff off the porch too,”
Rhoads said the convenience of being able to have just about anything delivered to your home has grown extremely popular. And thieves have learned to take advantage of that.
“There’s more stuff delivered to people’s front door than ever has been in the past. So yes it’s a problem because of that,” he said.
“Very common, the neighbor across the street was having problems across the street. I installed a brand new double lock mailbox for her,” said Gabe Nainoa, a Punchbowl area resident.
The state attorney general has submitted testimony supporting the bill, emphasizing the warning from the U.S. Postal Service, which states, “despite the holiday season being over, incidents of mail theft are continuing to rise.”
The attorney general adds that under the current law, it’s hard to prosecute cases of stolen packages because proof is required that the thief intended to take property that is valued in excess of a particular amount.
“The enactment of this bill would address these issues and provide necessary protection to the property of Hawaii’s residents,” according to the testimony.
The maximum penalty for the new proposal is a year in jail and a two thousand dollar fine. Rhoads says he’s confident that lawmakers will give it full approval.
“Hundreds of thousands of people in Hawaii have this potential issue so everybody understands why were doing it,” said Rhoads.
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If the governor approves it, the new law would be effective immediately.