Florida cracks down on porch pirates and retail theft: ‘Someone is going to have hell to pay’

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed legislation on Tuesday that will toughen penalties for retail and package theft in Florida

Package theft will now be considered a third-degree felony if the item is worth $40 or more, a third-degree felony for a subsequent violation, and a first-degree misdemeanor for property worth less than $40.

“If you order something and they leave it at your front door, you come home from work or you bring your kids home from school, the package is gonna be there, and if it’s not, someone is gonna have hell to pay for stealing it,” DeSantis said.

The retail theft clauses will include harsher penalties if five or more criminals work together to steal and if social media is used to carry out the crime. Those provisions will look to cut down on “flash mob thefts,” when groups organize online, flood stores, and overwhelm employees to steal merchandise. 

“This retail theft ring is a total scam,” DeSantis said. “You have liberal laws, and these people are exploiting that to basically further themselves, knowing that they can loot a certain amount without really facing any significant penalties.”

California fell victim to “flash mob thefts” in 2023 when a large group of masked robbers broke into luxury Los Angeles retail locations. California instituted Proposition 47 in 2014, making thefts of up to $950 misdemeanors, up from $400, in the hope of reducing prison populations, while Florida allows up to $750.

DeSantis said Florida’s harsh retail theft laws are why it has seen a decline in such occurrences. 

“In Florida, we’ve actually seen a decline in retail theft over the last four years, and we’re proud of that,” DeSantis said. “I think it’s because a lot of people know this is not the state you want to try that in.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody also weighed in on the legislation.

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“Florida is a law-and-order state, and our policies combating organized retail theft are another shining example of how we are leading the nation,” Moody said.

A press release from DeSantis’s office stated that New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have seen the sharpest increases in theft, while shoplifting has decreased 30% in Florida since DeSantis took office.

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