Ron DeSantis Signs Legislation Cracking Down On Retail Theft, ‘Porch Piracy’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Tuesday to crack down on retail theft and “porch piracy” in the red state.

HB 549 increases penalties for retail theft crimes, as well as those who participate in stealing packages left outside of homes. DeSantis vowed to protect both retailers and consumers with the new legislation, and argued that Floridians shouldn’t have to defend their own properties from “porch piracy” during a press conference in a Stuart, Florida, Walgreens store.

“We’re going to make sure that our retailers are able to sell products, that consumers are able to benefit and that people are held accountable when they break the law. This theft is not limited, though, to just retail outlets,” said DeSantis. “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 going to be there. And if it’s not, someone’s gonna have hell to pay for stealing it.”

The legislation makes it a third-degree felony for an individual who takes part in retail theft with five or more individuals, as well as a second-degree felony if an individual commits the aforementioned crimes and uses social media to encourage others to participate. An individual will be subjected to a first-degree felony if they either commit retail theft after having been convicted of two or more of the same crime; or commit retail theft while in possession of a firearm.

Additionally, HB 549 addresses “porch piracy” by making it a misdemeanor to steal property that costs less than $40, and a third-degree felony for theft of property over that amount. A subsequent offense is also considered a third-degree felony.

DeSantis noted that Florida has experienced a drop in retail theft since he took office, and called out blue states like California and New York for having what he views as “soft on crime” policies. Both California and New York have seen rising rates in retail theft since 2021 and 2020, respectively.

“That has an impact on you as a consumer, because the prices will go up to reflect those stolen goods. That’s just basic business,” said DeSantis. “It also just has a demoralizing effect on people when you go in and you want to buy toothpaste and it’s like Fort Knox, because it’s all under lock and key for basic items. You gotta get a clerk to come and open it and all the stuff just to do basic shopping. That is not something that is good for quality of life.”

“And then, of course, if you can have people come in and just steal retail and walk out, that creates a contempt for the rule of law that has a spillover effect in areas far beyond retail theft,” DeSantis added.

DeSantis has also recently signed legislation to curb the fentanyl crisis and so-called “squatters’ rights,” among various other bills this session.

Republished with permission from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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