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Porch pirate laws may not be that effective, research shows

porch pirates
Posted at 2:37 PM, Aug 30, 2022

As more states enact laws with tougher penalties for stealing packages, past research shows that might not be the best strategy.

Disabled Marine veteran Michelle Turner was home with her service dog when a thief made off with a package delivered to her front door. A security camera and sign in the yard didn’t deter the thief.

“Knowing that they’re just feet away from where I am, it’s just nerve-racking,” said Turner, who lives in Kentucky.

Kentucky just joined a handful of other states, like Texas and Georgia, that have recently passed or proposed new laws to increase the penalties for stealing a package. There’s also a federal bill proposed for a consistent set of penalties.

However, past research shows that increasing penalties does little to deter crime. Instead, research suggests the certainty of getting caught and the increased perception that criminals will get caught is more effective.

In another study reviewing home security videos of porch package thefts, interesting trends were highlighted. Nearly all the packages stolen were visible from the road. Most of the stolen packages were medium-sized and had brand names on the boxes. Fences, cameras, and vehicles in the driveway didn’t seem to deter criminals much.

Still, using a technique called situational crime prevention, it’s suggested that homeowners take basic steps to prevent their homes from being targeted for package thefts:

  • Have the package delivered somewhere less visible
  • Increase the effort it takes to steal the package by using something like a delivery box
  • Increase the risk of getting caught by having a camera and alarm