Runestad introduces bill to crack down on mail theft

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad introduced his first Senate bill on Tuesday, a measure that would crack down on the skyrocketing problem of mail theft in Michigan.

Senate Bill 23 would make state penalties for mail theft mirror federal penalties to allow more options for state prosecution of these crimes.

“While all the numbers aren’t yet in, 2018 is expected to be a record year for mail theft in Michigan, with an unprecedented number of reports of missing packages,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Crooks contemplating quick cash will pilfer mail-order drugs, packages to pawn and checks to alter.”

Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, has introduced SB 24, companion legislation to Runestad’s measure. Runestad said the lawmakers are also working with stakeholders to allow for mail theft crime rings to be prosecuted under the racketeering statute.

Over the past year, the legislators have worked with the Prosecuting Attorney Association of Michigan, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Michigan State Police, local law enforcement, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to seek solutions to the problem of mail theft.

“The federal government is not prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of mail theft unless it also involves identity theft,” Runestad said. “With no real way to lock up your mailbox or padlock your porch, state laws and penalties are the chief protection against the theft of social security checks, mail-order prescriptions, and other items that arrive at your house.”

Runestad said the stricter penalties will provide a stronger deterrent for thieves.

“I’ll be working hard to get these penalties signed into law,” Runestad said. “In the meantime, have your own plan in place to check your mailbox regularly and pick up your mail as close to the time of delivery as possible. If mail is suspected missing, report it to your local police station immediately and be specific about what may have been stolen; reporting mail theft is essential to impeding its spread.”

SBs 23 and 24 have been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee for further consideration.