Study Links Prop 47 to Rise in Theft

New research looks at the connection between drug and theft crime charges to actual increases in crime, but finds no connection to violent crime.

Posted: Jun. 14, 2018 4:13 AM
Updated: Jun. 15, 2018 2:35 PM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif.-- new research shows voter-back Proposition 47 is the reason that theft is rising in California.

This is something that some Californians have assumed to be true for years - and come November you'll see an effort to repeal it on your ballot.

The owner of Sports LTD in Chico, Matt Smith, says someone tries to take something from his store nearly every day.

Smith is among a group of local retailers who've partnered with the Chico Police Department to fight back against shoplifters.

Smith says he's noticed an increase since Prop 47 went into affect in 2014 and says the business is losing thousand and thousands of dollars a year in stolen merchandise.

"What happened since that was passed is that we did see an up-tick and we continue to see an up-tick, guys come in off the street and they think they can get away with it - they usually only think they can get away with it once," said Smith.

The Public Policy Institute of California's study shows that theft increased by about 9% in 2016.

And it's not just retail - each day there are an average of 4,000 more thefts from vehicles statewide.

Violent crime in California has also gone up, but according to this study, Prop 47 isn't the cause.

The study isn't all gloom-and-doom; it shows that the two-year re-arrest rate for Prop 47 offenders is down by nearly 2%.

The study shows that this data could also reflect changes in law enforcement practices since Prop 47 took affect.

Lieutenant Chris Nicodemus of the Oroville Police Department says drug possesion charges don't have the teeth they used to - it seems like people aren't being held accountable.

Now, his officers often just destroy paraphernalia rather than actually arrest people just to have them over-crown the jail for an hour and then be released again.

Chief Mike O'Brien of the Chico Police Department says, "While crime statistics need to be analyzed from many perspectives, I am convinced the impacts of Proposition 47 and similar measures have decreased accountability and therefore increased crime in our communities. I have heard first hand from members of this community about those impacts. To mitigate those impacts, a temporary Street Crimes Unit was established, and a Retail Watch program started, to address these "quality of life" crimes."

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