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'Tis the season for porch pirates

It's not the Grinch taking packages, but it could be porch pirates taking advantage of another holiday season.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — With the ease and simplicity of online shopping, why not wait to have what you need delivered to your doorstep?

Porch pirates, thieves who steal packages and items from in front of your home, are banking on consumers taking advantage of having merchandise shipped to your door. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, more and more people have used online shopping to ship medication, medical equipment, groceries and at the peak of holiday shopping, all of their gifts for family and friends. Porch pirates don't necessarily look for anything, in particular, to take, but rather the opportunity to take something to turn a profit.

Until this year, these crimes were only punishable as a misdemeanor in Arkansas. One lawmaker wanted to change this.

State Representative of District 75, Lee Johnson led the way for making porch piracy a felony under Act 340. In doing so, it gives police more of an opportunity to investigate these reports.

"To see those things being stolen from our neighbors and not have a good way for our police to investigate that and prosecute those crimes, I just felt that it was really important to change that here in our state," said Johnson.

With the law now in place, police are better suited to help those who fall victim to this crime.

"Call immediately," urged Greenwood Police Chief Will Dawson. Don't wait to call your local police department to report the theft. Dawson says having the serial number of your items greatly helps investigators find missing items.

However, installing video doorbells and talking to neighbors to look out for any possible deliveries can reduce porch pirates' chances to strike. Another option may be to have packages delivered to your workplace.

Being vigilant and reducing the time items spend in front of your home is truly the best way to reduce the chances of theft. If you are the victim of the modern grinch this holiday season, be sure to call and report the crime right away - chances are, you weren't the only one.

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