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DeSantis signs tougher penalties for retail theft, ‘porch piracy,’ into law


Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Wednesday boosting penalties for retail theft, including sanctions for “porch pirates” who steal deliveries from outside people’s homes.

The governor’s office cited reports from retailers estimating losses as high as $112 billion during 2022, with hot spots in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

That figure may be overstated. A report published last month by the Brennan Center points to haphazard reporting of theft data and conflation of larceny with “shrinkage,” which can include theft, employee pilferage, and supply-chain mismanagement. FBI data reflect a 10% decline in larceny between 2019 and 2022, the report says.

During a news conference at a Walgreens in Stuart, DeSantis cast the bill he was there to sign as another one of his administration’s tough-on-crime initiatives.

“It also just has a demoralizing effect on people when you go in and you want to buy toothpaste. 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 this stuff just to do basic shopping. That is not something that is good for quality of life,” the governor said.

“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,” he said.


The bill (HB 549) makes it a third-degree felony, worth up to five years in prison, to combine with five or more people to commit retail theft. Using social media to plan thefts would be a second-degree felony, lasting up to 15 years.

Use a firearm or commit a second offense, and you could catch a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Additionally, the span in which the state could charge a felony for multiple retail thefts grows from 30 days to 120 days.

Stealing stuff off a porch worth less than $40 becomes a first-degree misdemeanor; a subsequent offense becomes a third-degree felony, and so does the theft of property worth $40 or more.

The bill takes effect on October 1st.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

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