Kentucky Advances Bill to Make Stealing Amazon, UPS Packages a Felony

A bill passed by Kentucky's Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday would close what one senator called a "loophole" in state law, making the theft of packages from someone's property delivered by private mail distributors a felony on the same level as stealing mail from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

The current law only applies felony charges to the theft of USPS mail, while stealing packages from services like Amazon, UPS and FedEx often lead to misdemeanor charges that may be investigated less seriously, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

The bill passed through the committee unanimously, with one senator hesitant about expanding the list of felonies in the state.

Senate Bill 23 would equate the other thefts to stealing USPS mail and be punishable by up to five years in prison, according to the Associated Press.

State Senator David Yates, a Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said in the committee Thursday that most thefts below $1,000 in value are misdemeanors in Kentucky, and even if victims have surveillance video capturing the "porch pirates" in the act, the cases are often taken less seriously by authorities, the Herald reported.

Kentucky Mail Theft Amazon UPS FedEx
A Kentucky bill would equate theft of Amazon, UPS and FedEx packages to the felony charge issued for stealing mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Above, a FedEx worker sorts packages being unloaded from a truck at the company's Oakland Airport sorting facility November 30, 2005, in Oakland, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"It's a very big issue in Louisville," Yates said of the city he represents, "an issue to the point that I worry it will escalate. I've talked about people who have been victimized over and over again with thefts from their front porch of the things — whether it be medicine, whatever it is being delivered, items that are important to them."

Yates pre-filed the bill in November, with the intention that the legislature would discuss it when lawmakers met for the legislative session that began earlier this month, according to WLKY-TV.

A Lexington man had his case heard by the Kentucky Supreme Court last year after he appealed his conviction for mail theft, arguing that he should not have received a felony sentence because he had stolen packages from a front porch and not from a mailbox, according to the Herald-Leader.

The court ruled unanimously against him, upholding his sentence, stating that while private mail distributors like Amazon were not explicitly named in the state's 1982 mail theft law, it should be implied that those services are included as mail, the aforementioned newspaper reported.

"This is about protecting your rights within your home, protecting you from thieves and making sure that someone is held accountable for stealing from you," Yates said in November, according to WSAZ-TV.