PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Stealing a package off someone’s front porch could soon become a much more serious crime.
Three bills in the Texas Legislature are proposing to make it a felony.
The seriousness of a theft charge is based on the value of what’s stolen, but State Representative Gene Wu of Houston, says most online purchases are worth less than $100.
“Most packages would fall into what we’d call a class C misdemeanor, which is like a speeding ticket,” he said.
It’s such a minor crime, Wu explained, police generally don’t go chasing after suspects, even when there’s an abundance of evidence.
“Every single week somebody posts video, crisp, clear video of the person, the car they drive and then their frustration that it’s not being investigated, it’s not being prosecuted, nobody is really going after them,” said Wu.
Wu has authored a bill, HB 760, to make stealing a package addressed to someone from their home or business a state jail felony.
At a committee hearing Monday, though, several people spoke in opposition to treating the theft of small items so seriously.
“If someone steals my mouthwash, that’s a state jail felony,” said Doug Smith from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
“Texas has been on a path to reduce the incarceration of people for the lowest level offenses,” Kathy Mitchell, Just Liberty
A similar bill, HB 37, has received bipartisan support, but is still waiting for a hearing.
The proposed bills would not apply to mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, which is protected by federal law.