Kentucky bill aims to crack down on ‘porch pirates’

January 28, 2022 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers took a first step Thursday toward fighting back against “porch pirates.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill to impose tougher penalties for stealing packages left on porches by commercial delivery carriers. The measure would update the state’s theft of mail statute, closing a loophole in the decades-old law, said Sen. David Yates, the bill’s lead sponsor.

The goal is to crack down on people who snatch packages left near front doors.

“We’re hoping to be able to put a dent in it,” Yates told the committee.

Under the measure, the felony theft of mail offense would be expanded to include stealing packages delivered by such commercial carriers as Amazon, UPS and FedEx. Offenders could face up to five years in prison. The law now only applies to mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

The bill, which sailed through the committee, heads to the full Senate next.

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Package thefts from porches are a big issue in Louisville — the state’s largest city — and there are concerns the thefts will escalate, said Yates, a Louisville Democrat.

Some people have been victimized “over and over again,” with the theft of medicines and other important items from their porches, he said.

The current loophole in the law results in some thieves not being prosecuted for lesser misdemeanor offenses, Yates said.

Meanwhile, a House committee advanced a bill Thursday aimed at providing relief to Kentucky employers on their unemployment insurance tax assessments. The measure would allow employers to continue using the rate set for 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposal easily cleared the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee and heads to the full House next.

Republican Rep. Russell Webber said the locked-in rate would give businesses “some breathing room” while trying to cope with other challenges, including rising inflation and ongoing supply chain problems. Webber is the committee’s chairman and the bill’s lead sponsor.

The bill would save Kentucky businesses, on average, about $70 per employee, the panel was told.

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The mail theft legislation is Senate Bill 23. The unemployment insurance bill is HB144.