FILE - Amazon online sales tax

Package thieves and scammers in Wisconsin are being put on warning.

The State Assembly has included plans to deal with porch pirates and gift card scammers in the state's tough-on-crime package. 

Both plans are from Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield. He says package thefts and scams are among the crimes on the rise in Wisconsin. 

"We talk about a lot, especially at the holidays, where there is more and more crime being committed where individuals are coming and taking packages," Hutton said. "This gives law enforcement more tools and charges them with violations of theft that today are not defined, or well enough defined for law enforcement to have those tools."

Oftentimes mail theft is considered a federal crime. Hutton wants to have some teeth to charge package thieves in state courts. 

"This now involves all deliveries," Hutton said. "Whether it's the Postal Service, private carriers like UPS or Amazon, etc."

His other proposal takes aim at scammers who steal money through gift card scams. 

"This came from law enforcement who told us that they also don't have the tools today to bring charges against people involved in known money laundering cases," Hutton said. "Many of us have heard about people getting phone scams where they are being required to go purchase a significant amount of gift cards to release somebody out of a very difficult predicament. All of those scams have infected most of our communities in one form or another."

Hutton's porch pirate legislation still needs to pass the Senate. The phone scam legislation now heads to Gov. Tony Evers' desk. 

The Center Square Contributor

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.