State Watch

Colorado legislator pushes tax breaks to combat ‘porch piracy’

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A Colorado state legislator tired of losing packages to so-called porch pirates has proposed a measure that would give residents a tax break if they install anti-theft devices at their homes.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Alex Valdez (D), would give residents who have had packages stolen from their homes or businesses a $75 tax credit if they install a lock box or some other device meant to deter theft. Package delivery companies would also qualify for a tax break if they donate anti-theft devices to residents.

Those seeking the tax credit will have to show proof that they filed a report of the theft with local law enforcement. 

“What we want to do is deploy the solution where it’s needed. If you live in a remote part of the state, your likelihood of porch piracy is probably a lot lower. What we want to do is target this incentive towards areas that have seen the most incidents of porch piracy,” Valdez told The Hill. “People see that we need to do better at prevention.” 

Valdez’s bill appears to be the first of its kind to incentivize residents to build theft-proof equipment in the United States — and it is fitting that it comes from a state legislator who represents Denver. A survey released in November by the companies SafeWise and Cove Home Security named Denver as the metropolitan area plagued most by package thieves, ahead of San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Seattle. 

The survey found an estimated 64 percent of Americans had a package stolen from their homes or businesses in the last year, an estimated 210 million packages that have gone missing.

Valdez knows whereof he speaks: In an interview Tuesday, he said a recent move made the occasional incidents of porch piracy at his own home all the more frequent.

“I started having a situation where I could barely get a single package delivered without it going missing,” he said. “It was not only frustrating, it takes all of the convenience out of getting something delivered, and it’s also kind of violating.”

Porch piracy has risen substantially during the coronavirus pandemic, as more Americans shopped online and had packages delivered to their homes. 

Another survey, conducted by C+R Research, found nearly 60 percent of Americans reported receiving a package at least once a week, and 43 percent said they had a package stolen in 2020, up 7 points from the 2019 study. In that survey, 84 percent of Americans said they were purchasing more goods online since the pandemic began. 

Valdez said early reaction to his proposal has been positive, though there is no schedule yet for hearings or floor action.

“I’ve been up here at the legislature for 4 years and I’ve already figured out that sometimes the good solution are those that haven’t yet been done,” he said. “This meets the legislature’s goal of preventing crime, and it also helps folks to protect the things that they’re ordering. That’s good as we move towards more of an online world.”

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