TRENTON — Legislation to crack down on “porch pirate” crimes and stiffen penalties for package theft has been signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

Theft of a delivered package is now a third-degree crime statewide, punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.

The crime previously was treated as a misdemeanor as a majority of stolen packages were valued at less than $500, according to one of the measure's sponsors, Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, D-Middlesex.

“Package theft is a growing problem for online consumers,” Karabinchak said in a written release. “As the popularity of online shopping has increased, unfortunately, so has the act of stealing those deliveries from homes before residents retrieve them."

“Package delivery is easier for many seniors and disabled residents who are unable to leave home to just run to the store or the pharmacy,” Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, said in the same joint statement.

“Having their packages stolen from their front step could mean waiting a long time for medicine they rely on."

Roughly 14% of Americans in a recent survey by Finder said they were victims of package theft within the past 12 months.

That equals about 35.5 million Americans, dealing with an average value of $157 reported stolen in each.

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