Thefts rise af­ter Calif. re­duces crim­i­nal penal­ties

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Don Thomp­son

SACRA­MENTO » Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers’ de­ci­sion to re­duce penal­ties for drug and prop­erty crimes in 2014 contributed to a jump in car bur­glar­ies, shoplift­ing and other theft, re­searchers re­ported.

Larce­nies in­creased about 9 per­cent by 2016, or about 135 more thefts per 100,000 res­i­dents than if tougher penal­ties had re­mained, ac­cord­ing to re­sults of a study by the non­par­ti­san Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute of Cal­i­for­nia re­leased Tues­day.

Thefts from mo­tor ve­hi­cles ac­counted for about three-quar­ters of the in­crease. San Fran­cisco alone recorded more than 30,000 auto bur­glar­ies last year, which au­thor­i­ties largely blamed on gangs. Shoplift­ing may be lev­el­ing off, re­searchers found, but there is no sign of a de­cline in thefts from ve­hi­cles.

Propo­si­tion 47 low­ered crim­i­nal sen­tences for drug pos­ses­sion, theft, shoplift­ing, iden­tity theft, re­ceiv­ing stolen prop­erty, writing bad checks and check forgery from felonies that can bring prison terms to mis­de­meanors that of­ten bring min­i­mal jail sen­tences.

While re­searchers can link the mea­sure to more theft, they found it did not lead to the state’s in­crease in vi­o­lent crime.

Vi­o­lent crime spiked by about 13 per­cent af­ter Propo­si­tion 47 passed, but re­searchers said the trend started ear­lier and was mainly be­cause of un­re­lated changes in crime re­port­ing by the FBI and the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment.

The FBI broad­ened its def­i­ni­tion of sex­ual crimes in 2014, while the LAPD im­proved its crime re­port­ing af­ter pre­vi­ously un­der­re­port­ing vi­o­lent crimes. If it weren’t for those changes, re­searchers found Cal­i­for­nia’s vi­o­lent crime rate would have in­creased 4.7 per­cent from 2014 to 2016.

Re­searchers com­pared Cal­i­for­nia’s crime trends to those in other states with his­tor­i­cally sim­i­lar trends. They found the in­crease in Cal­i­for­nia’s vi­o­lent crime rate was less than that of com­par­i­son states, but larce­nies jumped in Cal­i­for­nia as they de­clined else­where.

RICH PEDRONCELLI — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, an in­mate at the Madera County Jail is taken to a hous­ing unit at the fa­cil­ity in Madera In­de­pen­dent re­searchers say that Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers’ de­ci­sion to re­duce penal­ties for drug and prop­erty crimes in 2014 led to a jump in thefts, par­tic­u­larly car bur­glar­ies and shoplift­ing.

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