Porch pirates a growing problem, now area lawmakers want harsher punishments

NOW: Porch pirates a growing problem, now area lawmakers want harsher punishments

MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58)-- 'Tis the season for porch pirates, since the beginning of December a number of areas including West Allis, Milwaukee and Oak Creek have been hit hard by package thieves.

The problem has even caught the attention of area lawmakers.

West Allis police released a video of a man stealing Amazon packages off of someone’s porch on social media. Police say in less than two weeks, they’ve had at least 10 reported cases of porch pirates.

”This seems to be a popular crime this season and other jurisdictions are being hit as well,” said Christopher Botsch, Deputy Chief of Operations for West Allis Police Department. “So when you look at the entire region, the crime is up significantly.”

Dustin Tatro and his girlfriend Jackie Sorenson live on the border of Milwaukee and West Allis. He was hit by a porch pirate on Monday and shared his surveillance video with Milwaukee police.

The porch pirate dumped someone else’s already opened package envelope on his porch, and then took his girlfriend’s Amazon package, supposedly filled with Christmas presents.

“It’s always on the back of my mind that because I do online ordering, it could happen, and low and behold it finally actually has happened and it sucks,” said Tatro.  

After reporting it to Milwaukee police, he took to social media and found out the porch pirate also took packages from his neighbors.

“Later on I found out that someone else got my girlfriend Jackie’s package,” said Tatro. “They took what they wanted and just left a couple of items.”

West Allis police say they’ve identified the man they’re looking for but have not made any arrests. Oak Creek police also released a video on social media of a porch pirate they’re trying to find.

Deputy Chief Botsch says he’s not sure if it’s the same man, but he’s working with other police departments.

”We are looking at other surveillance cameras that may be in the area aside from doorbell cameras and then try and pool that information together to come up with suspects and to follow up and to ultimately hold people accountable,” said Botsch.

Area lawmakers say one in four people report having their packages stolen. On Thursday, Rep. Rob Hutton introduced what he hopes to be a bi-partisan bill that would lay harsher punishments for porch pirates.

”In this bill if an individual steals 10 packages or more at any given time, even if it’s multiple individuals from multiple homes, that will no longer be a misdemeanor, it will actually be a class I felony or if it’s more than 30, it could actually go up to a class H felony,” said Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield.

”If they end up making strict penalties and things like that for people who do things like that, it’s really going to make people second guess it,” adds Tatro.

Deputy Chief Botsch says if your employer allows it, have packages delivered to your work, and if that’s not an option have your neighbor be on the lookout for your package. 

Amazon also offers deliveries to free secure lockers in the Milwaukee area, for more information click here.

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