WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
Act 144 made mail theft its own crime. Mail theft is defined as taking a letter, postcard, or package from a home or other building. Taking fewer than 10 piece of mail now is a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine; stealing 10 to 30 pieces of mail is a felony punishable by up to 3½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and stealing 30 or more pieces of mail is punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. That last penalty also applies if the stolen mail belongs to an at-risk adult.
The law was introduced as Assembly Bill 734. The companion bill was Senate Bill 656.
The lead authors of AB 734 were Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) and Scott Allen (R-Waukesha). The lead sponsors of SB 656 were David Craig (R-Big Bend) and Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).
The Assembly adopted the bill, 84-13. All the Republicans supported the bill, as did 21 Democrats. The Senate adopted the bill without dissent.
Gov. Tony Evers signed it into law on March 3.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Hutton – More shoppers than ever before are skipping the lines at brick and mortar stores instead choosing to shop from the convenience of their homes....
Unfortunately, this trend has also led to the rise of so-called "porch pirates"-thieves who steal delivered packages from a person's doorstep. According to a recent study, as many as one in four people have had a package stolen from their residence.
Our laws should keep up with the shift in consumer trends and the resulting criminal trends. Under current law, it is illegal to steal mail or any other item. However, while the act of theft is in current statute, the act of stealing multiple items from multiple residences cannot be considered under the same charge. Repeat criminals are often released after paying a small court fee because the value of the packages stolen falls below the threshold of more serious theft offenses.
This bill will create a penalty for individuals who steal packages from porches and other locations near a residence. It also allows for multiple package thefts to be charged as one crime if they occur as a course of action. It further clarifies that theft of any package or piece of mail delivered by any carrier to any building would be charged as mail theft.
John Milotzky, Wauwatosa Police Department – If you order a package from a retailer and it is stolen from your porch, you’ll be inconvenienced by having to report the theft and wait for a replacement product.
Now imagine that it’s not just a replaceable object that is stolen, but that it’s your identity or your banking information. What the media didn’t necessarily show in their “porch pirate” stories are the numerous crimes that occur following the theft of mail – crimes that can have a long lasting impact on the victims….
Once in possession of a victim’s checks, suspects can change the payee and cash the check, which is a one-time crime. But we also see them use victim’s checks to create counterfeit checks using the same routing and account information….
Registering for the bill: Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Wisconsin Independent Businesses Inc.
Registering against the bill: No one.
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