Calif. Citizens Under Duress After Dem Crime Law Creates Paradise for Robbers


It was called, with no winking irony involved, the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” Proposition 47 was an omnibus criminal justice reform measure passed by California voters in 2014. Among other things, it reclassified thefts under $950 from felonies to misdemeanors unless the accused had prior convictions for certain crimes like murder and rape.

The vote wasn’t close, with just under 60 percent of Californians casting their ballot in favor of the measure. Democrats and the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the measure would reduce crime statewide by allowing law enforcement to focus on violent criminals.

The results have been predictable. Organized smash-and-grabs are on the rise, according to KOVR-TV, yet arrests are falling. In Vacaville, a city about 35 miles from the capital of Sacramento, more than half of the 746 retail thefts last year went unsolved. And even when a perpetrator is caught, it’s almost a waste of resources.

“They know the law,” Vacaville police Lieutenant Mark Donaldson told the station. “One of the first things they ask us [is], ‘Can’t I just get a ticket so I can be on my way?’”

Thefts from cars have risen significantly, as well. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last summer that there were 16,000 to 17,000 robberies from motor vehicles every month in California before Prop 47 was enacted. In the first two years that the law was in place, there were 19,000 to 20,000 a month.

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The situation is so bad that the streets of San Francisco are sparkling — with shards of glass from broken car windows. When KGO-TV looked for an April 2018 report, the station couldn’t find a single street without some glass strewn about it:

The effect on the City by the Bay has been particularly noticeable, according to a weekend Fox News report. It now has the highest petty crime rate of America’s 20 largest metropolises, in part because of the changes wrought by the 2014 law.

“[Shoplifters] know what they’re doing. They will bring in calculators and get all the way up to the $950 limit,” Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association, told Fox.

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“One person will go into a store, fill up their backpack, come out, dump it out and go right back in and do it all over again.”

Michelin told Fox that theft in the city is “becoming a public safety issue for consumers,” adding that some footage she’s seen from retailers is “completely insane.”

“They will go into a grocery store, steal alcohol and walk out the front door with it,” she said. “They know no one is going to prosecute them. The district attorneys aren’t.”

Another problem is the fact that California has banned giving out plastic bags, meaning many customers put products into their own carrier. This makes stuffing something into your purse or messenger bag and blending in a fairly easy task.

Cassie, a 21-year-old former heroin addict, told Fox that she’s occasionally shoplifted when she needs money.

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“If my babies need diapers or formula, who is going to get that for me? No one. I have to do it,” she said. “They ain’t out here arresting people for (shoplifting) and everyone knows it.”

San Francisco’s problems with drugs and homelessness also play into the equation. The city has a thriving black market economy, with fencing operations for stolen goods operating out in the open in the United Nations Plaza district. Addicts can sell their stolen wares for 50 percent of the original retail value — all, according to Del Seymour of non-profit Code Tenderloin, in the shadow of City Hall.

“Of course it sends a message,” Seymour told Fox News. “They’re doing it right here in the open.”

It gets worse than that, according to Michelin. Not only does she say that organized gangs are now crossing state lines to commit theft in California because of the absence of a substantive penalty, she says they’re also using children to do it. That, she says, is influencing other kids.

“There are folks that are using and exploiting children,” she said. “But I also think that teenagers know that there are no consequences anymore. It’s part of a game. If you get caught, all you have to do is get out of the store.”

Prop 47 has also soured the relationship between police and prosecutors, several people told Fox News.

“Law enforcement [officials] are trying to protect the streets and then they might do a sting and arrest a bunch of people but then the district attorney will drop it or downgrade the charges,” Michelin told Fox News.

“It’s nuts,” Michelin said. “Stores are going to be forced to lock up all their merchandise.”

According to Fox, the mayor’s office didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment and the San Francisco police simply sent a news release from a December 2018 bust. Well, I already feel safer.

This is a common theme in the modern liberal rubric: The idea that being easier on criminals is somehow going to reduce crime. In case you needed an object lesson to demonstrate how that’s fallacious, I give you Prop 47.

Making major property theft a misdemeanor isn’t going to destigmatize people who may have made a mistake somewhere along the line, allowing them to get their life straightened out without a felony conviction on their record.

Instead, what California has basically done is declared open season on businesses and law-abiding citizens.

If you’re a hardworking property owner, well, tough. You’re not a priority.

Instead of coddling criminals, California would be better off protecting its productive citizens from crime. Prop 47 is evidence of that.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture