COVID-19 was theorized to have only been part of the problem. While the study notes that lockdown measures meant more vehicles sitting around unattended for longer periods of time, making them tempting targets for thieves, it also references the California Judicial Council’s passing of new zero-dollar bail policy as a contributing factor. Enacted in April, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the measure was taken so courts could set individual bail for those accused of looting. Meanwhile, most non-violent crimes (and some low-level felonies) are supposed to be bail-free, allowing jail populations to be kept at a minimum during the pandemic.
The city also stopped ticketing for parking violations, leaving ample opportunity for cars to enjoy prolonged curbside stays while everyone works from home.
“People are seeing that they’re not going to stay in jail, especially for car theft,” said LAPD Lieutenant Siage Hosea, who works on the Task Force for Regional Autotheft Protection. “So what’s happening is we are seeing repeat offenders.”
Also, thefts under $950 are pretty much ignored by police.
SAN FRANCISCO – In a lighted garage on one of San Francisco’s busiest streets, a young man in baggy trousers and messy brown hair pulled down his pants. He had been hiding two pairs of stolen jeans with the tags still on them. He handed them to another man waiting nearby, took some money, pulled up his pants and headed back into another store on Market Street — home to the city’s high-end designers and big-chain retail shops.
The incident wasn’t a one-off. These brazen acts of petty theft and shoplifting are a dangerous and all-too-common consequence of Proposition 47, a referendum passed five years ago that critics say effectively gives shoplifters and addicts the green light to commit crimes as long as the merchandise they steal or the drugs they take are less than $950 in value. The decision to downgrade theft of property valued below the arbitrary figure from felony to misdemeanor, together with selective enforcement that focuses on more “serious” crimes, has resulted in thieves knowing they can brazenly shoplift and merchants knowing the police will not respond to their complaints, say critics.