LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Federal authorities in Arkansas have launched a crackdown they’re calling Operation Porch Pirate to target thieves taking Christmas packages after they’ve been delivered to homes.

Federal prosecutors said Monday they’ll seek to file felony mail theft charges rather than a state charge against anyone caught stealing packages.

The federal charge carries a more severe punishment while state-level theft might only be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

Authorities say the first person charged as part of the operation is a 57-year-old North Little Rock man found last month with several packages that they say were stolen from a residence.

He was initially arrested on state charges but those were later upgraded to a federal offense carrying up to five years in prison.

Authorities say they want to make any decision to steal Christmas packages “a very painful one.”