After a rise of porch package thefts both in California and nationwide, a bill designed to give harsher sentences to package thieves will be returning to the Assembly.
Assembly Bill 1210, which was written earlier this year by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) with the help of Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, would have made package theft a new crime. While under the bill the minimum for such a theft would have been a misdemeanor, it also would have carried felony level punishments including jail time for larger or repeated thefts. It also would have expanded where a home burglary to include all areas attached to a home, such as porches and stoops.
Assemblyman Low went into details about it earlier this year.
“A criminal could steal up to 10 packages from 10 different homes on the same day,” said Assemblyman Low. “And so long as those items are worth less than $950, they could only be charged with a misdemeanor.
“Currently, right now, you have to break into someone’s home [for it to count as a more major crime]. But we know that the theft happens outside on the porch, or what we refer to as ‘curtilage,’ the adjacent areas around the home. The bill attempts to update our laws to show that people will be charged with a ‘wobbler,’ or misdemeanor or felony depending on the determination of past criminal history.”
In response to allegations that this would only create more convicts Assemblyman Low stated “We do not want to increase incarceration. But this is a tool to allow for prosecutors to have options, depending on past criminal history, to charge accordingly in hopes to prevent further victimization.”
AB 1210 made it to committee before it was indefinitely postponed in April because other Assemblymembers said that the bill needed to be changed to reflect the value of what was being stolen to equate it to the punishment.
However, after a large rise in the number of package thefts was reported, the bill will be returning to the Assembly. Assemblyman Low confirmed on Wednesday that AB 1210 will be in front of the Assembly in January. It is expected to be revised to include those concerns raised by Assembly members earlier this year.
“It’s not going to help deter any thieves this Christmas,” said Pasadena private security officer Jayce Burnett. “But if this gets passed it would really cut down on how many packages are stolen. I’ve caught people doing this before and they’re back out on the street not too long after. I’ve heard the same from some police buddies. This would make them think twice, and if they do do it, they risk major jail time and major fines.”
“They steal others property. They’re criminals. We should start punishing them like it.”
If passed, AB 1210 would have roughly the same misdemeanor and felony punishments as the state of Texas, who is noted to have some of the strongest package theft punishments in the nation.
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