New state law would mean jail time for porch pirates, mail thieves

Gov. Gregg Abbott signs new law making mail theft state felony

By Patty Santos - Reporter, Bill Caldera - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A new state law signed by the governor this week will go after porch pirates and mail thieves starting Sept. 1.

State Rep. Ina Minjarez said her bill will hopefully be a deterrent for a crime that has become all too popular, making even lawmakers victims.

"All of our mail here in this building, we get hit several times. It is a problem everywhere," Minjarez said.

The bill got the support of San Antonio representatives who formed a Mail Theft Task Force last year to find a way to combat the situation.

San Antonio Councilman Clayton Perry was among those who pushed for a change in legislation through the task force. He, too, became a victim.

Don Turco said he's been a victim three times.

"I got it on camera, but unfortunately, they took the license plate off their cars, so you couldn’t see what the license plate number was, so when we recorded it, there’s nothing we can do about it," Turco said.

When law enforcement officials make a stop or find a large amount of mail that doesn’t belong to the individual they encounter, authorities can only give them a citation or charge them with a Class C misdemeanor, without an arrest.

Starting in September, however, the person will face a state felony with the following offense classification:

  • Class A misdemeanor if they were found with less than 10 pieces of mail (up to one year in jail and or a maximum fine of $4,000)
  • State jail felony if they had anywhere from 10 to 30 pieces of mail from different addresses (180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000)
  • A third-degree felony if they had more than 30 pieces of mail from different addresses, (two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000)

If the person was found to be targeting the victim for identity theft, the offense will increase. It can also be increased to the next category if the person was targeting the elderly or disabled.

Minjarez said the bill was supported by Amazon and will be used to lobby other states in passing similar laws.

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