Police in the Canadian city of Montreal are under scrutiny for urging residents not to share photos or videos of thieves stealing packages from their porches.
Though the city is experiencing a struggle with so-called “porch pirates,” police warned Montrealers that sharing clips online gathered from security cameras or Ring doorbells could potentially be defamatory and violate a criminal’s right to privacy.
“You cannot post the images yourself because you have to remember, in Canada, we have a presumption of innocence and posting that picture could be a violation of private life,” explained communications officer Lt. Benoit Richard in a recent press statement.
“If you get some proof that somebody might have stolen something, call the police,” Richard said. “Give that proof to the police [and] we’ll do the investigation, bring that person to justice and file some charges.”
According to Éducaloi, a thief whose likeness is shared online can sue if they feel the video or image of them “infringes their image rights.”
To avoid having deliveries stolen, Lauren Small-Pennefather, a Montreal politician responsible for public security, recommended consumers request signature releases on their package or arrange to pick them up at courier depots.
“You can actually ask to have a signature for the parcel, which means they cannot leave it at your door,” she said, adding: “You can also make arrangements with the carrier to pick it up from the depot.”
The police’s warning was met with mockery on X (formerly Twitter) by critics who accused law enforcement of being too concerned with the rights of criminals.
“So thieves have more rights than the victims…” wrote one X user who goes by the handle @JUN1984NOV.
“Hello police, I trespassed and stole property, but the victim posted my picture on Facebook. I would like them charged with violating my privacy,” added another sarcastically.
Agreeing, another joked about showing the thieves hospitality as they commit their crimes.
“Don’t forget to also invite them in for some tea,” he wrote. “You don’t want to have a violation towards their wellbeing. It’s cold out there.”
Others took to X to mock Canada and its government for failing to prioritize law-abiding citizens.
A new survey by FedEx Express Canada found that porch thefts have seen an uptick in Canada, with 24% of Canadians saying they “have one or more packages stolen in the past year.”
Despite Quebecers having to deal with porch pirates regularly, little action has been taken by police to prevent these thefts beyond providing tips to protect packages from future theft.