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California larceny rates jumped after voters passed measure to reduce penalties

California has seen a jump in shoplifting, car burglaries and theft since it reduced penalties for certain nonviolent crimes. (Getty Images)

Car burglaries, shoplifting, and other thefts have risen in California since voters passed a 2014 proposition that reduced penalties for certain nonviolent crimes.

However, some experts suggest that the reduced penalties themselves may not be to blame for the increase in crime, but rather California's failure to properly police misdemeanor crimes.

What does Proposition 47 have to do with crime rates?

Recent studies have blamed Proposition 47 for a jump in the state's crime rates since 2015.

"Proposition 47 had no apparent impact on burglaries or auto thefts, but it did contribute to an increase in larcenies — such as theft from motor vehicles and shoplifting — which increased by roughly 9 percent, or about 135 more thefts per 100,000 residents," a report by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California said in a report released Tuesday.

The proposition was intended to decrease the prison population, reduce the recidivism rate, and decrease crime rates. Savings on incarcerations would be redirected to schools, mental health care, as well as community-based treatment and prevention.

Since the proposition passed, violent crime jumped about 13 percent, the Sacramento Bee reported, but the researchers said the trend began before the measure was imposed and that changes in crime reporting by the FBI and Los Angeles Police Department can be attributed to the increase.

Still, crime rates in California are historically low, according to PPIC's report.

PPIC compared crime rates in California to states with similar records and found that California's 9 percent rise in larceny in 2015 contrasted with other states with similar laws over the same period.

Why do some experts think the lower penalties aren't the problem?

Other states have changed penalties for certain crimes, including Texas, and have actually seen crime drop.

In Texas, prior to 2015, theft of $500 or more was considered a felony, but a change was made that increased the amount to $2,500, according to Marc Levin, vice president of the right-leaning Criminal Justice Policy in Austin, Texas.

Now, theft under $2,500 is a misdemeanor for the first two offenses and becomes a felony on the third offense.

However, unlike California, Texas didn't reduce the penalty for burglary of a vehicle.

So, what could be causing California's spike larcenies?

Why aren't California police responding to certain calls?

California police often don't respond to car break-ins and shoplifting calls because it's expensive for counties to prosecute people for misdemeanor crimes.

Levin told TheBlaze that police officers in California are ignoring misdemeanors because it's not worth their time.

In San Francisco, police received more than 30,000 reports of crime in 2017, however, arrests resulted in less than 2 percent of those reports, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Thieves are getting away with these sorts of crimes without consequences, which means there's no reason for them to stop their behavior.

"In Texas, if you commit a misdemeanor property charge, you're going to get arrested," Levin said. "If nothing happens to them, they keep doing it."

One last thing…
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