Editorial: Hey, California lawmakers: Stop tolerating car burglaries – The San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board has long advocated for criminal justice reforms, arguing an archly punitive legal system can ruin the lives of people who could be redeemed. A part of that reform effort is realizing that when poorly written laws help crime flourish, they should be fixed.

Which brings us to the report printed Monday in the Los Angeles Times about the state law that says people can’t be prosecuted for breaking into a vehicle unless prosecutors can prove a car’s doors were locked. This has made prosecutions more difficult and led to an astounding wave of break-ins — averaging about 70 a day — targeting tourists’ rental vehicles in San Francisco. Yet an attempt to revamp the law by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has been blocked two years running, and failed efforts to overhaul the law date back at least to 1997. Asked why she shelved Wiener’s bill last year, Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, cited the cost of implementing new legislation but didn’t directly say why.

The criminal justice reform movement shouldn’t be so complicated. And it shouldn’t be so sympathetic to criminals that it abets their behavior. Cars are personal property. The case from the California Public Defenders Association that the law’s language protects homeless people seeking shelter in cars can also be addressed with a rewrite, if need be.

And who asked Wiener to introduce the bill? Then-San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, one of the leaders of the criminal justice reform movement. He grasps the obvious: Not having consequences for committing what is clearly a crime is not reform. Please, lawmakers, figure this out.


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