TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — A new Oklahoma law creates a three-strike system for criminals stealing packages from homes and businesses.
Thieves that look for opportunities to take deliveries from doorsteps, commonly known as porch pirates, could face up to 2 years in jail and $5,000 in fines if they are caught 3 or more times in a 60 day period. The first 2 offenses are misdemeanors with a chance at 1 year in jail and fines up to $500. The new law sets up a system to help police identify repeat offenders and hold them accountable.
Officer Jeanne Pierce, a Public Information Officer with the Tulsa Police Department, said the law taking will limit the crime as more people start holiday shopping.
“It’s really good that we have that felony aspect of the law because we are seeing a lot of the same people committing this crime over and over again,” Pierce said, “So if we can take several package thefts and charge them, we can turn that into a felony and they can get a more severe punishment for the crimes they’re committing.”
Pierce calls it a crime of opportunity. She said TPD sees porch pirates commit crimes throughout the entire year, but with more people working from home and making online purchases, they’ve seen more activity.
“We see an issue in porch pirate thefts around the holiday season when everyone starts shopping online and having things delivered to their home,” Pierce said.
Homeowners and business owners have started taking precautions in recent years by adding security cameras, lock boxes for their deliveries and tracking their packages online. Pierce said those types of investments can help keep a property safe and assist police if a crime does occur.
“A lot of individuals have doorbell cameras and security cameras now on their front porch, so we are seeing some of the same people, the same vehicles that are committing these crimes,” Pierce said.
Surveillance footage of repeat offenders establishes a trend in who is committing the crime, allowing for the new state law to track those criminals. TPD partners with Ring, a doorbell security camera system, to quickly identify package thieves. Other security systems can allow homeowners and business owners to keep a look-out on their property.
John Berry owns Tulsa Surveillance Technologies and said the advancement in security systems, as well as the affordability, can help property owners feel safe. If a porch pirate notices a camera, it could cause them to walk away.
“I am glad the new law has been passed in terms of porch pirates but not everyone that is out prowling for packages or looking for the opportunity to break into a business is worried about the law,” Berry said, “But if you could put a camera in a place that that person can see, that might deter that person from making that decision on your property.”
Berry said the quality of cameras is also important when trying to protect property. If a crime does occur, a camera should be able to identify the perpetrator at night or from far away.