Gov. DeSantis signs measure cracking down on retail robbers, porch pirates

DeSantis theft via EOG
Been caught stealing? Penalties are about to get tougher for you in Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is cracking down on low-level crime with some high-level penalties designed to make the point that Florida won’t tolerate larceny.

The Governor signed HB 549 at a Walgreens. The law will impose tougher punishments on thieves no matter how relatively valueless the items they stole might be.

“We’re a law and order state. If you do the crime, you do the time” DeSantis said in Stuart, saying his law was a contrast to more permissive approaches in California and New York that have emboldened criminals and have created situations for consumers dealing with “Fort Knox” style security when buying toothpaste.

The legislation will reduce the threshold value for third-degree felony grand theft to an item valued as low as $40, with second-degree felony penalties for items valued at $750 or more and/or if the property stolen is taken from more than 20 dwellings.

This latter condition could apply to so-called “porch piracy,” described by DeSantis as a “cottage industry” (no pun intended) where people steal Amazon packages and the like from front porches when homeowners are at work.

While single-infraction theft of items under $40 are classified as first-degree misdemeanors, the infractions are reclassified as felonies if the thief has previously been convicted of the same crime.

The bill also targets groups of thieves that swarm establishments to steal, classifying those offenses as third-degree felonies. Second-degree felony penalties apply to those who used social media to recruit collaborators. Meanwhile, those with guns or two prior convictions would be subject to first-degree felony sanctions.

Finally, the bill allows for crimes committed over a period of 120 days to qualify for these retail theft ring sanctions, with only three thefts necessary, down from five currently.

The law “may have a positive impact on merchants who lose money from organized retail theft” in the event restitution is ordered, per a committee analysis. It also may lead to more people going to prison, according to the Criminal Justice Impact Conference’s review of the bill back in February.

Other speakers enthused about the legislation, including Attorney General Ashley Moody.

She framed the bill as showing again how “Florida has set the blueprint for other states” and being “proactive” in fighting crime.

The Florida Retail Federation lauded the legislation.

“Thank you to Governor DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Legislature for making Florida a law and order state – one in which safety is priority and crime is not tolerated,” said Florida Retail Federation president and CEO Scott Shalley.

“Organized retail crime is a real threat to retail stores, big and small. Across the nation, there has been a critical uptick in ORC activity, prolific offenders are stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise with increasingly violent motives, putting retail associates and customers at risk. With HB 549 signed into law, the retail industry here in Florida can continue to provide safe environments for their shoppers and their team members.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


7 comments

  • Impeach Biden

    April 9, 2024 at 11:18 am

    No more free shopping sprees for Biden Democrats.

    • dont say fla

      April 9, 2024 at 1:05 pm

      Hi, Fake IBS!

      Nice try but everybody know, Real IBS never posts on topic

      Your Fake Friend,
      Dont say FLA

  • dont say fla

    April 9, 2024 at 1:01 pm

    Despite Rhonda’s circus of paper tigers trying to figure out how to put the car into reverse, Floridians will soon wish things were as good at home as San Francisco’s got it

  • Cherry Wood

    April 9, 2024 at 1:11 pm

    This is OK, but I think the sentences for theft and murder should be tougher than drug sentences. One incident of theft can kill someone else easily! What if that package on the porch was medical supplies to help keep a patient alive?? Many of us Chronic patients are treated at home!

    • dont say fla

      April 9, 2024 at 3:47 pm

      “Signature Required”

      • MH/Duuuval

        April 9, 2024 at 8:13 pm

        DSF: By jove, I think you have the solution!

  • Ocean Joe

    April 10, 2024 at 10:29 am

    Havent read the bill, but what is needed is more protections for merchants and their employees who take action to stop the thieving or detain the suspects.
    If these jokers can pass a law allowing motorists to run over protesters blocking a road then surely they can give store owners more rights when it comes to defense of property. Repeated flash mob thievery ultimately leads to store closures.

Comments are closed.


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