LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate voted unanimously Thursday to combat the theft of mail, including packages left on doorsteps, by making it a state-level crime that can be prosecuted locally.
Supporters of the legislation said it is necessary because ID thieves and package stealers are not being targeted at the federal level despite “skyrocketing” reports of stolen checks, Amazon packages and mail-order prescription drugs.
“All of this has been escalated and, I think for the first time from what prosecutors and law enforcement have conveyed to me, this is going to be the tool that they’re going to use to really put a dent in it,” said one of the bill sponsors, Republican Sen. Jim Runestad of Oakland County’s White Lake Township.
In the four months from October through early February, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service received more than 5,000 reports of stolen Amazon packages in Michigan, almost 300 reports of stolen credit cards, 140 reports of stolen checks and more than 60 reports of stolen medicines. An official with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service told senators at a Feb. 7 committee hearing that if federal prosecutors filed charges in all mail theft cases, it would be all they would do. U.S. attorneys typically focus on bigger cases involving high-dollar amounts.
Under the two bills sent to the House, it would be a state crime to take mail from a mailbox, obtain it by deceiving a mail carrier or steal mail that is left on porches or near mailboxes.
A first offense would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. A repeat offense would be a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. It would be a five-year felony to steal mail with the intent to commit fraud.
Another bill sponsor, Republican Sen. Peter Lucido of Macomb County’s Shelby Township, said the legislation is aimed at “fixing something that’s broken in the federal system,” where there are insufficient resources or manpower to “take care of business. … If somebody has cameras out on their property and we know who the perpetrator is, let our state prosecutors do their job. Let our court system run the way it’s supposed to run and let’s get some justice back into our communities.”
Senate Bills 23-24: http://bit.ly/2TsnQZf