Minnesota Package Theft Charges Are Common This Time of Year
With the holidays in full swing, chances are many people are getting package deliveries on their doorstep. It may seem funny or thrilling to be a part of the “porch pirate” package theft trend, but in Minnesota, there are serious consequences for this behavior.
Last holiday season, three people were charged with felony retail theft in connection with taking items from stores such as Target and Menards without paying. That may be considered the more traditional type of package theft, but it’s important to note that taking packages that don’t belong to you from anywhere – store or porch – can get you in major legal trouble.
Here’s what you need to know about package theft in Minnesota, including the most common methods and the potential charges someone can face if they are caught stealing.
Most Common Types of Theft During the Holidays
The holidays are synonymous with gift-giving, but they also happen to be a time of the year when rates of theft increase right alongside all that holiday shopping.
It’s not shocking that theft seems to go up around the holiday season. After all, people during this season store expensive gifts in their homes and may be out of town for days, creating an opportunity for someone to take these valuable possessions. Plus, stores are packed with people, which may make it easier to get away with stealing than it would during lower crowd density periods.
The most common holiday theft crimes that occur include:
The hustle and bustle of the shopping season combined with stores having so much merchandise out on their floor, including high-dollar items, create the type of chaos that’s ideal for stealing merchandise. Of course, this also leads to tightened security measures at most stores.
Home burglary also runs rampant over the holidays. People often travel for the holidays or are at work during the day when packages are delivered. Even if the person doesn’t break into a home to steal something, a case can be made that simply nabbing a package from the porch could be considered burglary. It could be argued since something is taken without permission from a person’s property.
Online shopping occurs in large numbers over the holidays. After all, having items delivered to your home is so convenient! This creates a lot of opportunities for identity theft to occur, where someone steals personal information in order to purchase items over the internet on a credit or debit card that is not their own.
Petty Theft and Theft in Minnesota
Theft in various forms is simply something that happens more frequently this time of the year. How does Minnesota define theft under state law?
In Minnesota, in order for theft to be charged, specific actions must take place. Theft is committed in Minnesota when someone intentionally conceals, transfers, retains possession of, takes, or uses property that belongs to someone else. The intent of the act is to deprive the person that owns the property of it.
Theft is further defined under state law to be one of the following actions:
- Taking custody or obtaining possession, including the title, of property through intentional deception and false representation
- Filing a medical claim that is false
- Finding property that has been lost but making no fair attempt to get it back to its owner
- Renting or leasing personal property but failing to pay for or return it
- Depriving someone intentionally of their telecommunication service or cable television
- Driving or taking a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner
How is Theft Classified in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, anyone who commits a theft crime will have that crime classified according to the value of the property that was taken. These classifications are:
Property up to $500
This is considered petty theft when the value of what was taken was $500 or less. If convicted, you can face up to three months in jail and fines of $1000.
Property Valued Between $500 and $1,000
This level of offense can send you to jail for up to 12 months and require you to pay fines of up to $3,000.
Property Valued Between $1,000 and $5,000
This level of theft can send you to jail for up to five years and make you liable for fines up to $10,000.
Property Valued Over $5,000
This level of offense can send you to prison for up to 10 years and make you responsible for fines for as much as $20,000.
Property Valued Over $35,000
This is the most serious level of theft offense in Minnesota. If found guilty, this level of offense can send you to prison for up to 20 years and make you responsible for fines of $100,000.
About the Author:
Andrew T. Poole is a Minnesota native who has served in the Army for more than 18 years and is currently a JAG lawyer in the Army Reserves in addition to serving as a partner at LaCourse, Poole & Envall. He has handled thousands of criminal and family law cases over the course of his career and has a firm belief that all hardworking Minnesotans should be entitled to the best possible legal counsel. Mr. Poole boasts a 10/10 Superb rating on Avvo, is Lead Counsel rated, and has been recognized multiple times by SuperLawyers, National Trial Lawyers, and others for his work.