HOUSTON - Sick and tired of seeing package thieves get away or get off with fines and misdemeanor punishment?
Bills proposed by two Texas lawmakers would make stealing a package or piece of mail a felony with up to two years of prison time.
Law enforcement officials said identifying thieves remains their greatest challenge investigating stolen package cases. However, the proposed laws could give unsolved cases new priority.
Package theft is often a misdemeanor, unless thieves steal something worth more than $300,000. Punishment ranges from fines to jail time. However, thieves know prosecutors need proof, usually surveillance video or photos, to convict.
However, proposed Texas Senate Bill 222 and Texas House Bill 37 offers new incentive for law enforcement to do more.
“Who has the audacity to just walk up on someone’s porch and take their things?” said Bethany Mcilwain, a victim. “We felt pretty violated, all of us.”
She saw a man steal a box from her mom’s porch in Kingwood on Christmas Eve.
“He looked me in the eye and walked away and just got on his bike and kept going,” she said. “Who does that? It’s so wrong.”
It could be a state jail felony carrying six-months to two-year prison sentences if lawmakers approve either bill.
Prosecutors told KHOU 11 News proposed legislation likely allows them to use more resources to investigate cases missing video because the crime would be a felony.
At the same time, the stiffer punishment might deter criminals, prosecutors said.
Mcilwain hopes so.
“It’s a felony isn’t it to take something out someone’s mailbox,” Mcilwain said. “It’s their personal property. I feel it’s the same situation. It’s on our property. It’s on our porch, and I feel the same sort of punishment would be nice.”
Both proposed bills will be introduced during next year’s legislative session.