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Can Porch Pirates Face Jail Time?

With the increase in online shopping, more and more people are having their products shipped to their homes. Often, the purchaser isn't available to collect the package at the time of delivery, and the delivery person leaves the item on their porch. Unfortunately, unattended packages may catch the eye of a passerby who takes it without consent. People who engage in this type of conduct are referred to as "porch pirates."

In Ohio, being a porch pirate isn't a crime itself, but the underlying acts committed are. Depending on the circumstances, a person who takes another's package from their porch could be charged with several different offenses that range from misdemeanors to felonies. If the porch pirate is convicted, they could be sentenced to jail or prison.

Efforts to Catch Porch Pirates

One of the most common ways porch pirates are identified is through doorbell camera videos. When the alleged porch pirate goes to take a package, the camera activates and catches them in the act. Many homeowners victim to the theft post the videos on social media sites and share them with law enforcement agencies to identify the individual.

In some cases, law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with one another, as well as with the U.S. Postal Service and other delivery services. The agencies set up traps that typically involve planting GPS devices in packages. If a porch pirate takes one of the altered boxes, officers can track it and apprehend the alleged thief.

Potential Criminal Charges Porch Pirates Could Face

As mentioned earlier, a person who takes a package from someone else's porch could be charged with several different offenses.

A few types of charges levied against porch pirates include:

  • Theft: Porch pirates might take property without the owner's consent and with the intent to deprive the person of the item. In Ohio, this is called theft. It's charged anywhere from a first-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. The level and degree of charge depend on the value of the item stolen. The maximum jail term for a first-degree misdemeanor is 180 days, and for a first-degree felony, it's 11 years.
  • Receiving stolen property: Some porch pirates might work in conjunction with others. If they give the package they took to someone else and that person knows or should know it was obtained by theft, they could be charged with receiving stolen property. This offense can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor or a fifth-, fourth-, or third-degree felony. A conviction at any of those levels could result in incarceration.
  • Aggravated criminal trespass: Depending on the circumstances of the offense, a porch pirate could face charges for aggravated trespass. This offense occurs when someone enters or remains on another's property without consent to do so, and while there, they intend to commit a misdemeanor, which may cause physical harm to the other person. Aggravated criminal trespass is a first-degree misdemeanor with conviction penalties including up to 180 days in jail.

If you've been accused of a crime in Dayton, our attorneys at L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC are ready to provide the aggressive defense you need. To schedule your free case evaluation, call us at (937) 685-7006 or contact us online.