It’s probably no surprise to hear that the rise in online shopping has also led to a correlating increase in package thievery. These “porch pirates” can easily take advantage of packages sitting on the front step, especially during the holidays.
Last holiday season the problem of package theft became apparent to law enforcement, shoppers, and retailers alike, and cops really started cracking down.
Take police in New Jersey, who teamed up with Amazon to catch these thieves using doorbell cameras and bait boxes. One bait box was stolen just three minutes after it was set out, and the police quickly apprehended the culprit.
Police are also able to utilize nearby surveillance cameras in certain communities to help catch porch pirates. Similar stings have been tried in other states too, such as California and New Mexico.
In Connecticut, the stealing of packages out of a mailbox or off of someone’s property can qualify as residential burglary, as well as other crimes. if you find yourself facing these types of charges, you need to take them very seriously.
Charges of Residential Burglary in Connecticut
When you actually enter into somebody else’s home with the intent to commit a crime, that is considered burglary. In Connecticut, there are a few different degrees of burglary.
Entering into a building that is not a dwelling, with no other aggravating factors, is simple third-degree burglary. However, it is still a felony and could carry a penalty of imprisonment for one to five years, as well as a possible fine up to $5,000.
Breaking into an occupied building or inhabited dwelling with the intent to commit a crime (i.e. theft), is second-degree burglary in the state. This is also a felony and is punishable by up to ten years in prison as well as a possible fine of no more than $10,000.
First-degree burglary occurs when the suspect enters a dwelling at night and/or enters the dwelling with a weapon. This carries a severe penalty of a possible $15,000 fine and up to 40 years imprisonment.
Connecticut Crimes Related to Residential Burglary
Theft of Mail Matter
Anyone who steals or takes or otherwise deceptively obtains a package or other mail is guilty of theft of mail matter. You can also be charged with this crime is you receive stolen mail goods.
Penalties for this crime include an undefined fine and a possible (federal) prison sentence of up to five years.
Someone is guilty of trespass any time they enter another person’s property without that person’s permission. This certainly applies to any residential thief, as you would have to step onto the individual’s property to steal the packages.
Because trespass in Connecticut is only considered an infraction, the punishment is only a fine, but keep in mind, prosecutors are known to stack charges in order to increase overall penalties.
Possible Defenses to Connecticut Charges
If you are arrested on suspicion of any of the above crimes, a reasonable defense would be to claim that the building was open to the public.
You could try to say that the building was not occupied, but if something was stolen right off the front steps of a house, the jury probably won’t be buying that.
You could also claim that, in the case of a burglary charge, there was no intent to commit a crime on or in the property.
Again, the main point to remember is that police in Connecticut are cracking down hard. Should you wind up facing charges, reach out to an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney to help you navigate them.
About the Author
Douglas D. Rudolph practices criminal defense law with two guiding principles in mind: that you are someone who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that you are innocent until proven guilty. Those are beliefs that have served him well so far in New Haven and across Connecticut, where he has built a reputation as someone who truly cares about his clients and will fight aggressively for them. His work has earned him a number of prestigious awards, including landing on The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 list two years in a row, and being named to the Top 10 Under 40 by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys in 2018.