Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are partnering to fight package theft in Arkansas this holiday season.
Dubbed "Operation Porch Pirate," police forces in Little Rock, Sherwood and Fort Smith are teaming up with federal prosecutors and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to seek federal charges for mail thieves.
That could mean up to five years in federal prison with no parole, according to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Cody Hiland.
"It's obviously not the crime of the century, but it is a crime having a significant impact on our local communities," Hiland said. "I'm a firm believer that crime goes up when the cost to the criminal comes too cheap. My goal is to make the decision to steal Christmas presents from the porches of people who pay the bills around here a very painful one."
Hiland said he and fellow Western District prosecutor Dak Kees have already charged one person in the operation, 57-year-old Michael Crutchfield of Little Rock.
According to Kees, roughly 26 million packages were stolen from houses nationwide in 2017, mainly during the holiday season. Interim Little Rock Police Chief Alice Fulk says her department is currently investigating a few cases to be referred to the feds, along with two cases in Fort Smith currently under consideration.