WILKES-BARE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — You’ve probably seen security camera footage of thieves, also referred to as “Porch Pirates,” stealing packages from front porches.

Now, an effort is underway in Washington to stiffen the penalties for these crimes.

There is a move underway that would classify these thefts, committed by porch pirates, as a felony. Right now, most of these crimes are considered misdemeanors, basically, a legal slap on the wrist.

That would change in a big way if this legislation becomes law.

These are images that have unfortunately become part of daily life in America and our region, so-called, “Porch Pirates,” walking up on porches and taking packages. If caught, many times the perpetrators face simple theft or even trespassing charges, with no serious jail time or fines. Congressman Dan Meuser wants to change that.

“We’re going to step up the level of punishment for the theft if all mail all packages that are on people’s doorsteps and make them both a felony,” said Representative Dan Meuser.

Congressman Meuser said house bill 6852 has received bipartisan support, it would classify package thefts as felonies, the same as the theft of mail from mailboxes. A person convicted of the crime could face more than 20 years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

“Crime is unfortunately very much on the upswing. This should send a message that any theft from a porch or from a delivery person is a felony, not just a misdemeanor. People are getting out within a day or two basically even a day for a misdemeanor, this would change that,” explained Meuser.

Phylis Monda has been active in neighborhood watch programs in Wilkes-Barre for years, she thinks the move is long overdue.

“You walk on anybody’s property take things that don’t belong to them it should be a felony. Everybody should get to the fullest extent of the law,” said Monda.

Meuser said the legislation would also increase the penalties for those who commit armed robberies of delivery workers, such as UPS, Amazon, and FedEx.