Proposition 47 a Smashing Success for Criminals


“‘Very, very unusual’: 50 car break-ins in 24 hours near Galleria mall and across Roseville,” reads the July 20 headline in the Sacramento Bee. Police received several calls but “instead of two or three burglarized cars, officers found 30.” These were hit at the Galleria Mall and Hyatt hotel and 20 others occurred around the city. Thieves took everything from spare change to luggage to computers and police found it all “very, very unusual.” Actually, it isn’t, ever since Proposition 47, the 2014 ballot measure that treats property theft of nearly $1,000 as a misdemeanor.

As NBC News reports, car break-ins in San Francisco alone rose from 22,029 in 2014 to 26,040 in 2015, then to 24,624 in 2016 and a full 28,984 in 2017. Of those nearly 30,000 break-ins, police made arrests in just 1.7 percent of cases and most of those taken into custody were never sentenced to jail time. So reductions in prison populations come at the expense of increased crime, as critics of Proposition 47 predicted. As San Francisco police Lt. Mike Nevin told NBC, “They find the reward greater than the risk” and now break into more than 80 cars every day.

Proposition 47 and Crime, a fact sheet from the UC Irvine School of Social Ecology, explains that “property crime trends appear to show Proposition 47 caused an increase in larceny and motor vehicle thefts, but these findings do not withstand sensitivity and robustness testing.” Victims of the nearly 30,000 San Francisco car break-ins might find that a bit confusing. Under Proposition 47, as Tom Jones said, it’s not unusual to have 50 car break-ins in one night. Roseville police report no arrests and the thieves can use the credit cards and computers they stole to commit other crimes, including identity theft.

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K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.

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