Ardmore police advise public to stay vigilant against porch pirates
With only a few more weeks until Christmas, deliveries will soon be arriving on doorsteps and Ardmore police want to help ensure those packages make it to their rightful owners.
As the popularity of online shopping and home delivery continues to rise, so does the threat of ‘porch pirates.' Ardmore Police Department Capt. Claude Henry said porch piracy hasn’t been a huge problem in the city in the past, but it does occur.
“There’s actually people who will drive around and look for packages that are sitting by the door, on the porch,” Henry said. “Especially around the holidays. It’s a little more common that people will try to steal those types of packages.”
The issue could become a bigger problem this year as more people will be receiving packages at home due to COVID-19, Henry said. However, a new law that took effect on Nov. 1 just might help counteract that.
The Porch Piracy Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt in May, creates fines and potential prison sentences for those who steal packages or mail. A violation of the act can result in a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
Those who commit porch piracy three times in a 60-day period can wind up with a felony charge punishable by two to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Those convicted under the act will also have to pay restitution to victims.
“Anytime that you put a law in place you hope that it does deter people from doing those types of crimes,” Henry said. “We’re trying to educate the public on this law so if they know that they’re a victim and they have evidence maybe on a camera or on a door bell camera, they know that they can report that and that’s something that we can investigate.”
The Porch Piracy Act makes it easier for law enforcement to prosecute those types of crimes. There was previously no formal charge for porch piracy, rather the crime was considered to fall under petit larceny.
“In some cases, depending on the amount, some people would have to turn to the postmaster general to file those types of cases,” Henry said. “Now that it can be handled on a state level and local law enforcement can get involved, we do hope that it does deter people from trying to steal packages from peoples’ property.”
Henry said there are several ways individuals can avoid falling victim to porch pirates. The number one tip police suggest is to retrieve packages in a timely manner.
“I think the biggest tip that we can give citizens is the quicker you retrieve your packages the less amount of time there is for somebody to see it and possibly go steal that package from the property,” Henry said.
Many delivery services offer the ability to enable delivery notifications so that customers can ensure they are home when the packages arrive. Henry said individuals can also have items shipped to the store they purchased them from, or even shipped to their places of employment for pickup.
“That’s another good option,” Henry said. “You can also put in special comments for the delivery, so if you want it placed in a certain spot — maybe a bit more of a hidden area— you can request that, and that will be passed on to the delivery driver.”
Ardmore police encourage anyone who spots suspicious activity to make a report. Henry said suspicious activity might look like someone unfamiliar going to pick up a package from someone else’s property, or someone following a delivery truck and picking up a package minutes later.
“If it looks suspicious, just call our non-emergency number and report that and that’s something that we can look into,” Henry said. The Ardmore Police Department can be reached at (580) 223-1212.