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Michigan law targeting 'porch pirates' goes into effect Dec. 16

Stealing packages is a punishable crime in Michigan.

Stealing packages from porches is not something new. And despite technology designed to catch thieves in the act, the number of cases are on the rise throughout the year and especially now as the holidays approach. 

Sgt. John Wittkowski of the Grand Rapids Police Department says porch pirates are common because it's an opportunity crime that is pretty easy to pull off. 

But in September, Michigan adopted a law that will make stealing packages from someone's porch a punishable crime. That law goes into effect Dec. 16.

"This law will probably not do a lot as far as catching people, but certainly it will hopefully deter people from engaging in this kind of behavior," said Wittkowski.  

The first time someone is caught stealing packages, it will be a misdemeanor. The second time, it will be a felony. 

According to the police, the first steps in possibly recovering stolen packages is to report the crime.

"The citizen needs to report the crime, and then an officer will go out and the report will be taken over the phone. The citizen will be given a report number—that is how they can link any sort of video to that number," said Wittkowski. "It can be sent in an email to a detective or to our general information line so it's easily done and citizens need to know that we have the capabilities to download all of that information."  

EARLIER: Legislation going to Whitmer targets 'porch pirates'

In addition to securing a home with technologies like Google Nest or Amazon Ring, Wittkowski says there are ways for communities to work together to prevent crimes from happening.   

"We always encourage neighbors to communicate with each other. Whether it's just door to door or through a neighborhood conversation. We utilize the Nextdoor App which allows for communication on an application through their computers. And we're continuously looking for new opportunities to address this issue and hopefully in the coming year. We'll see more opportunities through the use of technology and collaboration with our partners to curb this further." 

The new law aims to make porch pirates think twice about stealing packages. But only time will tell just how great an impact, if any, it will have on cracking down on this crime.  


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