If the numbers of car burglaries in Orange County were not alarming enough in 2015, they saw very little improvement in 2016. This unnerving trend has led police to back out into the streets, going door-to-door with volunteers to warn county residents about the importance of not only keeping their car doors locked and valuables out of sight, but to notify law enforcement of any suspected suspicious activity in their area as well.
As for why this spike in property crime continues, county police chiefs attribute its continued threat to the adoption of Proposition 47. This state law, signed into effect three years ago, took once felony-level theft and drug crimes and made them into misdemeanors instead. Although originally expected to decrease the prison population and allow for rehabilitation of pretty criminals, this law has done little to effectuate this.
Although FBI statistics from 2016 show that crime in the county, as a whole, dropped 4 percent from the previous year, both aggravated assaults and burglaries continue to grow. Violent crime continues to remain steady as well. Law enforcement in the area attributes much of this to the fact that these petty criminals don't get hauled off to jail for what they do, leaving them to continue committing crimes throughout the day.
In areas like Huntington Beach, in attempt to curb property crime, police have implemented social media notification of crime hot spots and has begun distributing prevention tips to residents. The latter was adopted by officers after reading the Orange County Sheriff's Department report that theft and larceny could have been prevented in at least 67 percent of cases had the individual not left an item of value out in plain sight.
As some communities have worked harder to decrease these petty types of offenses, crime has increased in areas that have not. For example, Buena Park has seen an increase in property crime by 26 percent. And, as for Costa Mesa, their police chief blames the opiate epidemic, homelessness, unemployment and skyrocketing rent for having a lot to do with the city's increase in rape, robberies and property crimes in his jurisdiction as well.
If you have been charged with theft of burglary, an Orange County, California, criminal defense attorney can assess your case and advise you of potential defenses in your matter.
Source: Crime is down 4% in Orange County, but burglaries are on the rise, "OCregister.com," Jordan Graham, March 21, 2017