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Package Theft: What Happens When You Swipe a Delivery

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Package Theft: What Happens When You Swipe a Delivery

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Stealing A Package in Texas

These days, more and more people are choosing to order items online rather than shopping in stores. Many retailers have set up websites where their entire inventory is made available for sale. As a result, the number of packages being delivered on a daily basis has increased dramatically.

Although this delivery system is very convenient, it also gives thieves an additional opportunity to take what is not theirs. Many packages are left unattended on porches or doorsteps for hours before they are picked up by the owners. Stealing a package is not an ordinary type of theft. Read on to find out more about the severity of this type of theft charge.

Theft Laws in Texas

In the state of Texas, theft crimes are categorized by the value of the property which was stolen. This is true whether the property was directly stolen or if the loss was the result of fraud, such as a case of theft by check. In either situation, the penalties can be increased in relation to the value of the stolen property.

For example, Meredith goes into a convenience store and steals three sodas from a refrigerator. She is arrested and charged with theft. The total value of the stolen drinks was $6.50 so Meredith is convicted of a Class C misdemeanor. This misdemeanor is punishable by a $500 fine but Meredith is a first-time offender and the stolen items were relatively inexpensive so she is given community service instead of a fine.

In another case, Martin comes across a brand new BMW with the keys still in the ignition. He hops in the car and drives away, stealing it. He is arrested and charged with felony theft because the car is worth $65,000. He may face years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for his actions.

This penalty system applies to virtually any theft case in the state of Texas. However, the situation may be different if the stolen item is a package delivered by a mail carrier or a package delivery service. This is because items delivered by the mail have passed through a federal system and a crime involving these items may be considered a federal offense.

Package Theft: A Federal Crime?

It’s true, a person who steals a package may be guilty of a federal offense. According to Chapter 18, Section 1708 of the United States Code, a person who steals an item of mail, a package delivered by a mail carrier or a package that is left in a designated delivery area may be guilty of a federal crime. A conviction under this offense can lead to fine and confinement in federal prison for up to five years.

Legal Examples

In July of 2016, a 44-year-old Houston area man was arrested twice in a span of eight days for stealing packages from porches. In both incidents, the man was captured on home surveillance video in the act of stealing the packages. One of the homeowners who was victimized placed the surveillance video onto a social media website where neighbors helped to identify the man.

In both cases, the man was charged with a count of felony theft. In Texas the punishment for the lowest level of felony theft can include:

  • Six months to two years in state jail or state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Community service and probation

Stealing packages from porches may be more likely to lead to higher levels of theft charges, even if federal charges are not filed. This is because the person taking the package may have no idea what is inside the package when they take it. For example, a relatively small package might contain a laptop valued at $5000. In this case, stealing a small package might lead to felony theft charges.

Legal Defenses

In most cases, the legal defenses for theft charges will include some type of plea arrangement. Of course, in cases of mistaken identity or if there were no witnesses to the theft, the defense attorney could argue that there is insufficient evidence to convict the defendant.

However, in a case like the one mentioned above, surveillance video may clearly identify the defendant. In that case, the defense attorney may arrange a plea deal so that the defendant can plead guilty in order to receive a reduced sentence or to avoid jail time completely. If this strategy is successful, the judge may agree to let the defendant serve a term of probation, community service and fines rather than spending any time behind bars.

If you have been charged with package theft, retain legal representation as soon as possible to protect your rights. Attorney Greg Tsioros has the experience needed to help you. Contact his office today at 832-752-5972.

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