Neely Farm

Neely Farm has been hit by porch pirates. (FOX Carolina/ January 4, 2019)

SIMPSONVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - Those who live in the Neely Farm subdivision may know Sandra Koeing because she walks or takes a run through the neighborhood every week.

"It's a very family-friendly neighborhood," Koeing said."This is a great neighborhood to live in- everybody looks after everybody."

Recently, she and another neighbor decided to deliver mail.

"All of this paper on the side of the road. So, we stopped and realized it was mail," Koeing said.

Someone swiped mail from mailboxes and took packages from porches.

"We found two empty packages that had been opened. The packages had been thrown away," Koeing said.

Mail theft from the United States Postal Service is a federal crime, but investigators say when crooks are busted with porch packages - depending on what's inside that package - it's considered petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor.

"I think with this rise of this particular crime, we need to do something to address it," South Carolina Representative Cezar McKnight said.

He pre-filed a proposed bill to try and stop porch thefts.

"What the bill does is it makes it a felony to take a package off the porch or from around the perimeter of someone's house," McKnight said.

He represents Williamsburg and Clarendon counties, but says illegal porch pickups are a problem throughout the state.

"You've got people who are potentially stealing someone's heart medication, you know, or any number of medications that they need to survive," he said.

Koenig says she found dozens of pieces of mail and several empty packages on two streets in the neighborhood.

"When somebody comes through it and disrupts it, that it is a violation," Koenig said.

Therefore, she's okay with someone taking steps to make crooks pay.

McKnight says if someone is convicted that person would have to serve at least 85 percent of their prison term, which could be up to five years in prison. He also says those convicted wouldn't be eligible for parole. The proposal will head to a judiciary committee after the South Carolina General Assembly resumes Tuesday, January 8.

Copyright 2019 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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