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HomeAt Home & BeyondNew Law Boosts Penalties for Porch Pirates, Flash Mobs

New Law Boosts Penalties for Porch Pirates, Flash Mobs

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A new law raises the stakes for those who boost boxes of merchandise left outside residences and businesses and for anyone who participates in retail theft committed by a flash mob.

“We’re a law and order state. If you do the crime, you do the time,” Gov. Ron DeSantis before signing the measure at an event in Stuart, Florida, on April 9. “We care more about public safety of law-abiding citizens than we do about coddling criminals or making excuses for them.”

Under HB 549 so-called porch pirates will face first-degree misdemeanor penalties for the theft of less than $40. A subsequent violation will be charged as a third-degree felony. The theft of property valued at $40 or more will be charged as a third-degree felony.

Also under the new law, those who commit a retail theft with five or more others will be charged with a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and those who commit retail thefts with five others and who used social media to solicit so-called flash mob members to participate in the theft will be charged with a second-degree felony punishable by 15 years in prison.

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Those who commit retail theft with a firearm or who have two or more prior convictions of retail theft would be charged with a first-degree felony punishable with up to 30 years in prison.

Finally, law enforcement may charge multiple retail thefts that occur within a span of 120 days as a felony.

HB 549 goes into effect on Oct. 1.

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