Senate sends Runestad’s ‘porch pirates’ bill to governor

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday gave final, unanimous approval to a measure sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad that would crack down on the skyrocketing problem of mail theft in Michigan.

Senate Bill 23 would create state penalties for mail theft to give more options for state prosecution of these crimes.

“Mail theft is a huge and growing problem in Michigan, as so-called porch pirates see these valuable packages that arrive at our homes as incredibly easy targets,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “The punishments currently in place do not deter these thieves; we must act now to stop this crime at our doorsteps.”

The Senate also unanimously approved SB 24, Sen. Peter Lucido’s companion legislation to Runestad’s measure.

2019 is expected to be a record year for mail theft in Michigan, and while there are federal penalties in place, Runestad said they aren’t effective.

“Unless a case of mail theft also involves identity theft, the federal government is not going to prioritize that crime for investigation and prosecution,” Runestad said. “Tougher state laws and penalties against this crime will be a much more effective deterrent. The penalties in this legislation are quite reasonable and will allow local law enforcement to do their job.”

Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard testified in support of the legislation earlier this year.

“While the United States Postal Inspectors do a great job with their investigations, they are often overwhelmed with the complaints due to the large volume of theft which is occurring,” Bouchard said. “Having the ability to enforce mail theft penalties will be helpful for both law enforcement and victims of this type of crime.”

Runestad said he is hopeful the governor will sign the bills soon so the new penalties will take effect in time for the holiday shopping season.

Over the past year, Runestad and Lucido 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.

SBs 23 and 24 now head to the governor to be signed into law.