A “porch pirate” bill making package theft a felony is headed to the Georgia Senate floor after passing the House on Wednesday.
This week, a bill turning package theft from a misdemeanor to a felony flew through the Georgia House with a 101-67 vote. So-called “porch pirates” could face stiff penalties and even prison time for stolen deliveries.
House Republican Rep. Bonnie Rich, one of the bill’s sponsors, celebrated the victory, saying it would “protect hard-working and law-abiding Georgians in their own homes.” In a Facebook post following the vote, Rich wrote:
Answering the call from citizens across the state to take action against the proliferation of porch piracy, I worked with the United States Postal Inspector to craft state legislation that recognizes the brazen nature and mindset of a criminal who is willing to approach the door of a victim’s home and commit a crime.
Not everyone is cheering, however. Critics say the potential consequences do not fit the crime. On Wednesday, Democrat Rep. Josh McLaurin tweeted a picture of himself and Rep. William K. Boddie Jr. with a message of resistance. “Will treasure this one. Rep. [Boddie] and I went to the well today to speak against excessive criminal penalties / ‘tough-on-crime’ posturing,” he wrote. “Proud to fight alongside my friend William.”
After the bill passed on Thursday, McLaurin doubled down on his resistance — suggesting Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp should veto the bill if it makes its way to his desk. “Georgia shouldn’t be in the business of making new felonies to address annoyance or inconvenience,” McLaurin said. “It’s not in line with our state’s efforts at reform. If the Senate passes the porch piracy bill that just passed the House, [Kemp] should veto it. That conversation starts now.”
Georgia Republicans are not the only ones making the case for a stronger response to package theft. In February, representatives for Tennessee and California made headlines for similar escalation. With residents increasingly “ordering their food, ordering their medications, other things that they need to survive,” California Sen. Brian Jones said at the time, “we need to protect them.”