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California car burglaries are at crisis levels (latimes.com)
119 points by nickgrosvenor 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments





Proposition 47 is the real bugaboo, it moved from felony to misdemeanor thefts under $950 which includes damage caused by them. this made breaking into cars pretty much a free pass because window damage rarely could exceed that. becoming a misdemeanor meant cops have no real reason to follow up. throw in the requirement to prove the doors are locked, well its easy to understand

however the real dishonesty is from Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) who claims a bill to at least remove the requirement for prosecutors prove a car was locked before being broken into based on costs. As in, they are very willing to pass the costs onto individuals; hence there still is a cost but to government it does not occur unless on their books. As it was pointed out, how is it never a crime to enter a vehicle you do not own without permission?

Prop 47 lead to an increase in shop lifting because it set the limit high enough that it basically insured no one would get prosecuted. the common method is to send a bunch of people into a store at one time to get the goods in volume but with each individual being under the limit in monetary value if being young enough prosecution won't work either


At a local Safeway woman loads cart with bottles of liquor. Walks out. She yells “I know my rights, I know my rights”. What are the cashiers and security going to do? Nothing, they let her go.

At another place kids get caught stealing they turn over a display and run out. Again, nothing done. All those costs are borne by the paying customers.

People are gonna get sick of it; the progressive supes are gonna rue this move. The DA race in SF was close. I think it’s gonna go the other way next election.

Also word on the street is apparently thieves prefer SF to Daly City because San Mateo county doesn’t play as nice as SF.


What you are describing is a particular sort of story that's meant to inflame and probably speaks to where you get you news, which sounds like it's political and partisan.

Both of the things you describe are corporate policies. They have nothing to do with state law anywhere, and they are there because of liability. Safeway doesn't want to get sued for 1) if an employee is an idiot/racist and misidentifies someone and harms them 2) employees get harmed substantially trying to stop a shoplifter. In these cases you have rare and small losses that are miniscule compared to bad financial outcomes of intervention.

It would be easy to stop, but that costs money. It's a very simple business decision for retailers: is the cost of loss prevention higher than the loss.

The fact that this surprises you is surprising to me, this problem is many decades old in retail.

Car burglaries are a much different dynamic, and another poster mentions that it's a felony that was reclassified to a misdemeanor, and that law probably does need to be changed and is a problem for lawmakers.

edit: and can we raise the elephant in the room, which is that this is fairly solvable with a national facial recognition database and fairly low end iptv/image capture tech?


One point is that grocers shouldn't have to fend for themselves against crime.

Supplying the public good of crime fighting is the main reason to form governments in the first place.


The police can't be in every store all the time. Presumably the police did show up and file reports about these crimes, but when a shoplifter is running away and the window to catch/arrest them is <60 seconds, I don't know what more the police could be doing.

I can think of a few San Francisco retail locations where blatant theft happens maybe every 15 minutes. The Walgreens at 9th and Market, the Gateway Safeway, the CVS at Pine and Kearney. The city has a task force for poop (much of the city is treated as a literal toilet); petty theft is almost equally visible and problematic.

The Safeway at 4th and King was basically a free market for crackheads. I lived nearby for five years and I would see shoplifting every time that I entered the store. I'm not even exaggerating.

So how have other cities solved this?

Or do you claim it's like this in every city?


First of all, grocers do not fend for themselves. They don't have private armed security and prisons. They call the police. It follows a completely normal and established process for reporting a crime and investigating it, then goes into the criminal justice system if necessary.

Beyond that what do you propose? Put a police officer in each store 24x7? How much does that cost and is that cost socialized? What if a police office causes issues with customers? What does the reporting structure and chain of command look like? Who has ultimate authority in that situation, the police office or the store? How is the cost borne by the store? What is the share of private and public burden in officer benefits/pension?

None of those questions involve the internet and closed circuit monitoring is almost 50 years old. The status quo reflects a lot of thought and money invested into the problem.


Two solutions:

A) Clerk warehouse model:

Stores can allow shoppers to browse through aisles of display items, sample items, boxes, or whatever else causes them to feel like a consumer, take tickets for what they want, then bring them to a counter.

After payment is received, someone else comes out from a secured, monitored area with all your items in a cart.

It wouldn't be too difficult to develop a system to allow people to visually browse for and select meat and produce items.

B) Strict club model:

Store is not open to the general public, but club members only.

You can't be club member if you are under 18 or don't have a provable source of income. If you violate the club's code of conduct, your access is revoked.

Entry is strictly controlled. You can't enter the facility without proof of membership. All purchases verified upon exit.


Both are well established and used in full or part by various retailers.

A) Cigarettes. Always behind a counter for age checks, but mostly because of loss prevention. Top shelf liquor, electronics, razors, and batteries often have similar constraints because they are compact and resalable. What is the loss of sales compared to theft loss and clerk staffing requirements (or implementation of the technology).

B) Club model suffers losses just the same. You can counterfeit a membership, and you might have issues validating on entry otherwise. Faster validation on entry might result in capex, and again you have a loss prevention/loss cost benefit decision to make.

Nobody is throwing money and low margin grocery chains. So cash flow positive operations are a big concern.


Clerk warehouse model is common in the third world.

I'll tell you how it's done at my Vons and Ralphs in my neighborhood in LA. They hire private security, one during the day, and two at night. They have to fend for themselves, as even if someone gets stabbed (like what happened to two people at the ralph's in september), cops aren't going to get there until blood has been spilled and the assailant has disappeared.

In the case from September, the suspect still hasn't been found, even with security footage and multiple witnesses and a description. Even at the vons, my regular shop on account of the stabbing at the ralphs, about once every other month the security guard has to bear hug and haul out a destitute person who decided to get belligerent with a cashier or customer. And this is a neighborhood that commands 1br rents north of 1.8k, but functions like Mos Eisley.

The solution is some sort of hired security, whether police or private. The ralphs situation could have been much worse without security guards.


I get neighborhood news from one of the various social neighborhood apps. These apps aren’t political or partisan in so far as I can tell. In my neighborhood there are lots of progressives but after a few years even some of the died in wool progs see that there are problems.

And to your point. Yes different crimes but the point is there has been a surge in both as well as a new crime in the form of package theft.


Hasn't anyone ever watched the opening scene of Pulp Fiction? Tarantino got right to that... no one is going to stop if you if you decide to rob a diner.

> “I know my rights, I know my rights”. What are the cashiers and security going to do? Nothing, they let her go.

I've seen a shoplifter (also in SF, Safeway) take it to the next level, repeatedly yelling, "I'm pregnant! The guards are killing me and my baby!". None of which appeared to be the case, and security was as nervous as you might imagine.

This kind of stuff happens a lot at Safeways in SF (also Starbucks and CVS, but mostly Safeway it seems). Other times you'll just see someone running out the door, guards look into the distance for a moment and that's that.

My wife calls them Unsafeway, heh.


I find it hard to imagine that. How do they stay in business?

At my supermarket, I have never observed proper going-out-the-door shoplifting. I am still able to get offended when somebody eats a grape that they haven't purchased. I'm sure worse crime happens, but in-store grape consumption is the worst I've ever observed.


My local Safeway in a middle class area of the South Bay Area also has a significant shoplifting problem. It's often kids who come in after school and steal small items, as well as homeless adults. Unfortunately the management appears to have a policy of not prosecuting or even confronting shoplifters. I sort of understand why they don't want to do anything, but it's disappointing because tolerating lawlessness brings down the whole neighborhood.

Technically, all of the customers like yourself are paying for it.

In So Cal, a supermarket I go to remodeled and removed the entrance closest to the liquor, leaving only one (rather busy) entrance where a security guard is posted.

I've seen people stealing liquor there as well.


[flagged]


Why? Not everyone on HN is a far leftist.

I know and that's fine, I meant the politics in general.

I believe what you’re describing is nation wide and doesn’t have anything to do with SF.

Most companies tell their employees to not stop shoplifters for because they don't want to risk a lawsuit, not because they legally can't do it. I've seen loss prevention employees at my local Target detain shoplifters until the police arrive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shopkeeper%27s_privilege


Target reportedly also does this so they can wait until you accrue felony amounts via repeated thefts, and then swoop in with a specialized team.

Whether or not this is on the employer's mind, I also can't imagine risking getting shot over my $12-$14 an hour retail job.

My retired grandfather works at Wal-Mart part time just to get out of the house, and he said the same thing. He was working on black friday last year and was assigned to a display where the item was limited to one per customer. He said a big guy came up to him and asked what my grandfather would do if he tried to take more than 1. My grandfather told him that they don't pay him enough to try and stop people from breaking the rules, so the guy grabbed an armful of the item and left.

Well, just imagine that you can’t risk losing your $12/hr job, either.

One of the few upsides about a $12 an hour job is that it's easy to replace.

Not everywhere, not for everyone, and if you're making $12/hour, there's a decent chance a day or two out of work is going to put you in the red if you're not already.

It’s the frequency and brazenness of the crimes that’s out of line with respect to other stats.

Sure, but the underlying difference is that people actually know their rights, not that SF is somehow soft on crime as implied.

It’s almost as if you’re wanting to imply shoplifting is a right.

They are not imploring a right. I could make s citizens arrest under my rights but people will tell you, it’s a losing proposition because you subject yourself to other frivolous claims that take money and time to clear up.

So the reason people aren’t detained for police is because police will do very little in these cases because they are classed as misdemeanors. So why risk lawsuits, etc. when there is no upside?


> I could make s citizens arrest under my rights

Very debatable. If you as a non-LEO attempt to detain someone who you suspect of having committed a crime, and they feel threatened, you could easily end up in jail.

“They did a crime” does not, in fact, give you the right to crime too.

Edit: Can someone help me out? I’ve posted a bunch of controversial opinions in this thread, so why is the one factual claim the thing getting downvoted to oblivion without comment?

Am I somehow wrong about this? Like... can I actually crime someone just because they crimed someone else first and I don’t want them to get away with it?

I need to know this.


> so why is the one factual claim

It's not factual - it's false.

> Am I somehow wrong about this? .. can I actually crime someone

Making a reasonable citizen's arrest is not a crime. That's what you have wrong.

(And you don't 'crime' someone, that's a noun not a verb.)



In most places people can be stopped. Mega business tends not to chase them because they can absorb the costs, making possible litigtion not worth it. The small business owner is the one made powerless by these laws, which are, indeed, different from the rest of the country.

Their customers absorb the costs. Always.

Except SF is soft on crime ... we have the lowest arrest and conviction rate in all of California.

The right to steal unimpeded?

I still haven't figured out why "well it's just a misdemeanor" means the justice system totally gives up on that type of crime. Everybody discussing Prop 47 talks about this like this is an obvious thing to assume. It still looks to me like crime is being committed -- I certainly wouldn't go and commit it, anyway, because it feels like it should have very real repercussions.

Elected prosecutors want to posture for the next election. Their incentives are around garnering popularity. When most voters mentally translate "misdemeanor" into "minor thing not worth worrying about", it isn't always a good look to go after those who may have committed them.

Police notice what isn't prosecuted. They don't enjoy the experience of wasting their time arresting people repeatedly for deeds that the prosecutor doesn't care about.

Then there's stuff like this:

> “In an era where our streets are filled with homeless people looking for shelter from the elements this expansion of the prosecution and incarceration time for individuals who have not damaged a locking mechanism of the vehicle to gain entry could negatively impact those with the least of means,” the public defenders said in a letter to lawmakers.

Prosecuting those with the least of means for anything less than heinous, violent crimes also isn't a good look.


> Prosecuting those with the least of means for anything less than heinous, violent crimes also isn't a good look.

So therefor just because you’re homeless you’re free to steal? That’s total BS, and also rots society.

The bigger problem is nothing is being done to make prisons better, or to address the deficiencies that allow people to become homeless in the first place.


Exactly. What's important in deterring crime is not just the length of the sentence. It's the likelihood of being caught and punished.

I don't necessarily want to lock people up for petty theft. But I do want them to face some sort of punishment, even community service, with follow-up and escalating punishments if the community service is not completed.

If the implication is that we were prosecuting these crimes before Prop 47, them we can still prosecute every one of them, we just don't need to charge them as felonies.


> I still haven't figured out why "well it's just a misdemeanor" means the justice system totally gives up on that type of crime

Depends on the misdemeanor. Feds are clamoring to deport folks for the misdemeanor of illegal immigration.


It's not just California, either. I live in MN, had my car window smashed out for a couple of bucks in loose change. The neighbor's doorbell camera caught it on video, but the cops didn't even want to see it. Just file a report, my insurance replaced the window, and it was mostly just a pain.

This argument always confuses me because you can still spend a year in prison for a misdemeanor in CA. Isn't that enough of a reason to follow up?

So in your opinion, where should the line be between misdemeanor and felony?

Also, do you think that charging more people with felonies is an appropriate solution to crime that has it's roots in addiction and poverty?


Drunk driving is a misdemeanor and they have DUI check points every weekend and saturation patrols(additional units) from 10pm to 3am. I've been pulled over multiple times for bogus reasons(license plate light out) to check to see if i am drunk. Prop 47 has nothing to do with it.

Forgive me, but I am having a hard time following the logic/connection here. The connection you mention is that they are both misdemeanors. However, they are completely different crimes. As you mention the cops use checkpoints to catch drunk drivers. Checkpoints are efficient for the cops (though constitutionally questionable). Car burglaries can't be stopped by checkpoints and take more resources to investigate.

I'll also mention that drunk drivers caught at checkpoints are arrested for a victimless crime while every car burglary has a victim.


DUI is as victimless as shooting a gun into a crowd and happening not to hit anyone. Just because you got lucky doesn't mean it's victimless.

I am not saying we shouldn't arrest drunk drivers. Drunk driving is bad. If someone drives while a tiny bit drunk and they make it home safely who exactly is the victim in that specific case?

Its a gray area and I think its best to be on the side of caution but lets at least be honest about it.


You missed the point. It takes resources to run a checkpoint for 6 hours. If you take the same number of cops and had them investigate property crime, it would make a huge difference.

It doesn't take much time to investigate property crime. They don't even both to take the video footage from the cars. Just ask on any Tesla forum where all the cars have a motion activated security cameras. They could spend 5 minutes to take the screen cap of the person and send it out to all the officer and community.


Drunk drivers kill people

Change thief’s cost a little money to insurance companies

Ideally both are stopped. But I would rather more drunk drivers are stopped over more change thieves.


100% agree. Thanks for clarifying.

> I'll also mention that drunk drivers caught at checkpoints are arrested for a victimless crime while every car burglary has a victim.

A victimless crime at the checkpoint, yes - but many people driving drunk end up in accidents and endanger public safety.

As for the real issue here: it's a problem only if there is not enough police to simultaneously conduct sobriety checkpoints and prevent crimes against property at the same time.

Fix police education, payment and staff and the problem is solved without pitting different dangers to society against each other. Or, even better, provide adequate public transport to allow people to have a drink without having to rely on driving drunk to get home...


Drunk driving tends to kill more people. There's only a number of things resources can be allocated to police.

If police units have enough resources to field fully-kitted SWAT units with APCs they have enough resources to put a couple beat cops on theft duty

DUI checkpoints don't catch drunk drivers. They catch unlicensed drivers. Next time you you roll through one, thank the police officer for keeping the community safe and then ask how many drunks they arrested that night.

That doesn't seem too terrible - we want unlicensed drivers off the roads too don't we? Whether or not they can drive well, they will be uninsured, which is clearly a risk to everyone else.

Exactly. They make their real money as a pretext to issue petty citations to people they wouldn't have otherwise stopped. Actual drunks are just the pretext. Sure they'd be happy to catch a few but they're the bonus not the goal.

> Proposition 47 is the real bugaboo, it moved from felony to misdemeanor thefts under $950 which includes damage caused by them.

The problem is not Prop47 or "liberal"/"progressive" politics.

The problem is a police and justice system that seems to be underfunded or understaffed to take care of small/petty crimes. No need to ruin someone's entire future for a shoplift or smash-and-grab, but also no reason to let them off "for free" only because the system is so overloaded.

> Prop 47 lead to an increase in shop lifting because it set the limit high enough that it basically insured no one would get prosecuted.

In Germany, we have the concept of "gang theft" (§244 StGB for the interested), which penalizes exactly the modus operandi at play here.


Fun anecdote. I was living/working in San Francisco a couple of years ago. It was 10am on a work day. I was walking towards my office, along Folsom coming from the 101 towards 8th. Out of nowhere a guy just walks up to one of the cars parked on the street, smashes the rear window, and starts taking whatever was inside. There was several homeless people nearby just casually observing it, along with myself. The perpetrator clearly gave zero fucks and undertook the whole thing as casually as one might stop to tie their shoe on the street. It was a little surreal, and I was already desensitized to the ... interesting characteristics of SoMa streets by that point.

I saw a similar surreal thing in San Fransisco. I was in the back left seat of a Lyft when I saw a man who appeared to be homeless walk up to a parked car on the side of the road. The traffic light was red so we were stopped with several cars in front of and behind us. The man peered into the windows, picked up his skateboard and bashed the back left side window of the car. He started pull out a non-descript black suitcase. The hole wasn’t big enough, so he had to bash the window more. I’m stunned as he’s doing this and I said aloud “Is he breaking into that car?”. “...Yeah he is.” - The Lyft driver cautiously replied. He got on his skateboard and casually skated away with the black suitcase. What can you do when that happens? The cops don’t accept picture text messages yet. Can you just shoot these burglars on sight or do they have to be on your private property for that?

> Can you just shoot these burglars on sight or do they have to be on your private property for that?

No idea about the law, but I would hope you value human life more than a stolen black suitcase.


For all those out there that applauded Prop 47 that helped lead to this mess let me tell you a story of how this law leads to more inequality not less.

A single mother working 2 minimum wage jobs in different parts of the city uses her car to travel to work. She basically lives in her car so she must keep belongings she will need in there. While working her first shift for the day her car is broken into. Her bag with her uniform for her second shift is stolen along with everything else.

The cops tell her that the damage to her 20 year old used car's window and the items stolen add up to less than $950 so they can't do much of anything for her.

Meanwhile, across town, a rich tech elite's high end electric car is broken into and some valuable electronics are stolen. The damage and theft adds up to well over $950 so the police are able to investigate.

At the end of the day the tech elite orders replacement electronics with next day prime delivery and has their assistant work on repairing the window. The single mother gets fired from her second job for not having the appropriate attire. Great work California.


This has always been true. If a poor persons bike is stolen, it's a misdemeanor. If a rich person's bike is stolen it's a felony. It's disgusting.

This probably isn't going to be popular, but once in the west horse thieves where hung - today the car or bike has replaced the horse, and while I understand the supreme court would be against the death penalty for it, why shouldn't that crime carry a very harsh penalty?

I understand that the historical lesson was that the Bloody Code (almost any property crime, even minor ones, were punished by hanging) but it seems extremely counter intuitive that harsh penalties carried openly wouldn't have a deterrence effect. I won't advocate hanging for a simple crime like this, but wouldn't a mandatory minimum of 10 years have some similar effect?


I don’t think your progressive Californian would disagree at all that that story is a shock to the conscience, or that California must change to stop that from happening.

We’d disagree a lot about what the biggest problem in the story is, though.


Is there an article on this story?

I'll present a counter argument: these crimes are born out of poverty and addiction. Charging even more addicts & poor people with felonies does nothing to help equality.

If I were on crank stealing bike cranks to buy more crank, I would want to be arrested and sweat out withdrawal in treatment or even jail. Whatever the facility, I'd have medical staff monitoring my symptoms every step of the way, unlike in my tent on the sidewalk.

The last thing I would want is to spend a night in jail then released for time served, wander back to my crank den, where after getting more crank into my veins I will be back on the street finding more bike cranks to sell for scrap and continue feeding the beast until I die. You might say that sounds bleaker than reality, but Los Angeles just buried some 1500 unclaimed dead the other day.


> If I were on crank stealing bike cranks to buy more crank, I would want to be arrested and sweat out withdrawal

You are speaking as someone who hasn't suffered from addiction. If you are an addict, you want drugs and you'll avoid withdrawl at all costs.

> Whatever the facility, I'd have medical staff monitoring my symptoms

You get the bare minimum in jail.

> The last thing I would want is to spend a night in jail then released for time served, wander back to my crank den, where after getting more crank into my veins

If you were an addict, that's exactly what you would want.


If wealthy are impacted by a crime in the same way as poor people, suddenly coming up with solutions becomes important.

An additional angle is that the state is well and truly out of money and running out of lenders, yet continues to see the number of poor and their related costs increase.

One way to offset growth in welfare expenses might be to permit poor people some way to directly steal with impunity, thus they can still somehow be fed, while simultaneously reducing attendant enforcement costs and prison populations.


Using theft as a mechanism for eating is about as broken as you can get. As pointed out by the GP, that theft disproportionally affects the poor directly (their stuff is stolen) and indirectly (their insurance costs are higher).

Not everything is about spending more to fed those already at the bottom — it’s better to prevent that in the first place. While certainly not a simple problem with simple answers, macro changes in culture would go a long way without requiring capital spending. Notice how low the crime rate is in Japan, despite plenty poor and hungry. Not without problems, the societal focus on family and thinking of the larger group has its benefits. The US could benefit a lot from changes in its culture to be less individualistic (and punishment oriented) and more civic minded.


> Using theft as a mechanism for eating is about as broken as you can get.

In addition to being inefficient, a populace that is convinced that their government won’t protect them will eventually start taking justice into their own hands. CA doesn’t seem to be there… yet.


Do you propose that the thief is rich or does not benefit from the theft?

The poor do little to directly increase revenues, so the cold financial evaluations that states are too good at will reveal a net benefit to the state.

I did not make an claim that "...everything is about spending more to fed[sic} those already at the bottom..." You are presenting a straw man.

The discussion about the entire U.S., which is an incredibly diverse region inclusive of almost every demographic except those found in the very poorest nations on the planet is not useful in a discussion on a specific region within the U.S., and worse is to compare it with somewhere else in the world and make no attempt to explain why the comparison is valid.


I don’t understand your argument at all.

First, we aren’t talking about the whole US — California is literally in the title of the article. And it’s explicitly calling out SF and the Bay Area for most of the article (Scott Weiner, from SF, is the impetuous).

The idea that normalizing car theft is a good thing is indefensible. You’re advocating for harming others, as well as creating a lawless society. To attempt to say this presents a solution is to ignore how we got to this place, recognizing there are plenty of other ways to address these issues.

My point about Japan was not that it’s the same as the US, but rather cultural changes affect rates of criminal behavior. It’s one potential avenue that’s ignored in public debate in the US that costs no money but has great baring on our collective future.


I'm not suggesting anything other than the state may not be interested in serving the poor and more interested in reducing what the state pays out.

I did not make a statement about what I would personally prefer the state to do.


Although I don't agree with this, this is a revealing insight into understanding how the liberal thought process works. It explains why liberals are so soft on crime.

So a car is not considered personal property if it’s parked on the street? I thought me taking someone else’s property is illegal, isn’t it? Say I swiped your wallet, it’s obviously not locked in your pocket and you are on the street next to your car. Will I be prosecuted or not?

The arrest rate for car breakin in SF is 2%, let alone prosecution. What’s your suggestion for raising that rate—hire a cop for every car in the city?

This is precisely the sort of policy that drives development and acceptance of mass surveillance software. What exactly do you think a city of technologists is going to do when driven against a wall, stuck between trying to appear progressive and chronic material loss of personal property?

It just takes one wrong middle manager to have a bad day and their car broken into before a certain cloud computing company decides that their smart surveillance doorbells can easily be adapted as car cams.


The police don't arrest people when they know the DA is going to drop the charges immediately and their superiors are going to ask why they are wasting their time.

This is entirely driven by the political atmosphere there where the DA would rather "its not really a crime" narrative than to prosecute and possibly face criticism from the progressive populace.


I don’t see anyone “progressive” arguing for not prosecuting people who break into cars, or not looking for them, or deprioritizing them. This is hardly a polarizing viewpoint. It’s just a useful dog whistle for certain styles of law and order conservatism.

There IS a progressive effort to prioritize moving forward with felony charges over misdemeanors. Perhaps you got confused?


There are people in this very thread arguing that they shouldn't be held accountable because of income inequality. The DA not prosecuting those people is entirely political that is driven by what the population of SF wants. So there obviously is a movement not to prosecute those people.

> It’s just a useful dog whistle for certain styles of law and order conservatism.

Oh yes, enforcing the law against property destruction and theft is definitely a dog whistle... O_o


The SF police don't even try. They could be using bait cars, responding to calls of broken glass, etc. They won't catch all of the thieves, but the habitual ones would eventually get unlucky. Right now, the police don't bother, because the DA doesn't prosecute misdemeanors. Now there's a brand new DA that seems like he'll do even less.

Ultimately if it's known that breaking into a car is something that has a reasonable chance of a big punishment, it will happen less.


You should run for DA.

Also, you can break a window from across the street with a ball bearing. Good luck.


This strikes me as such an odd law. Does CA feel the same about houses? Can one go break into a house and get away with it if the homeowner can't prove the doors were locked? I suspect not and, so, if not, why not? What was the impetus for such a law to begin with? Was there a rash of people leaving their cars unlocked and some politician decided it "serves them right" for getting broken into? The questions abound!

This year someone broke into my car in my driveway, got the garage door opener, opened the garage, stole some things there, opened the door into the house from the garage since we didn't habitually lock it back then, stole some things from the common areas while we slept in the bedrooms, then left a small pile of inferior loot from other stops in our front yard, some with nametags still on it.

While I credit the police for showing up and putting a minor effort into investigating it, they were certainly not taking pictures and fingerprints and all the stuff you expect from TV. The attitude was mostly "eh, teenagers get up to bad stuff, make sure to lock your doors."


Easy solution, break into the cars of the lawmakers.

Agreed, though I have a feeling those cases would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

So....they would also hit a dead wall of having to prove the car was locked at the time when it was broken into? Because that's the crux of the issue here.

I'm sure the 'crime' will be put under a different part of the law. I.e. Attacking a public official's property.

They have different laws for them. Wouldn't change a thing.


prosecutors prove a car’s doors were locked at the time of a break-in

Weird law. Here in Wales if you leave it unlocked you might have a problem with your insurance but it’s still equally a crime.


"eliminate a requirement that prosecutors prove a car’s doors were locked at the time of a break-in, has been shelved two years in a row"

I lived in San Jose, left my crap car's doors unlocked because there was nothing in it. Still, the thief just broke the passenger window (without trying the door?) , opened the glove compartment, saw there was nothing in there, and moved on.

So, not a crime I guess. Yay California. I don't live there anymore.


Based on the anecdote in the story, you should always break the window without trying the door, because if you're on video trying and failing to open the door, that's evidence the door was locked and they can prosecute you.

Talk about perverse incentives.


It's a crime everywhere else in the US too. California is pants on head stupid about this.

The article makes little sense. It says

“It’s ridiculous that under current law you can have a video of someone bashing out a car window, but if you can’t prove that the door is locked you may not be able to get an auto burglary conviction"

So what? Surely you can still get a conviction for criminal damage (as it's called in the UK) or theft?


Apparently now in California it’s a misdemeanor if car’s broken window is worth less than $950.

Apparently:

"In California a misdemeanor is defined as a crime for which the maximum sentence is no more than one year in county jail."

A year in jail is a serious punishment. Why can't these people be prosecuted?


They can, of course.

At any given time, any given American can likely be prosecuted for a misdemeanor.

The question you are asking is, why are these people prosecuted only after every misdemeanor crime which is prosecuted, and additionally only after those misdemeanor crimes which counterfactually would be prosecuted before this one if more misdemeanor crimes were prosecuted?

The answer is complex.


I wonder if the car's computer logs changes to lock state and if that would be sufficient evidence. Seems like that could be an easy solution.

In The Netherlands, leaving your car unlocked is an offense in itself : incitement

How would they prove it wasn’t just forgetfulness? There would be no “mens rea”.

As someone who has lived in a major city for the last 30 years there is just ONE rule.

Leave nothing in your car and leave the doors unlocked.

Leaving the door unlocked is the rule I adopted after a break in 30 years ago when only one of my doors was locked, and of course that window was broken!


Sadly, this is not sufficient in SF. Many people have gotten so desperate as to hang posters that send the message to potential thieves: “please don’t break my window, there is nothing valuable in this car.” I’d say there’s far more than just one rule.

When I was loading my car in SF to move out of SF (back to Seattle, not much of an improvement unfortunately) I left a note saying "I am loading the car, I am nearby and if I see you I will run out and kick your face in". I saw a homeless person check out the car (with lots of visible boxes already in it) and just walk by.

What other rules would you suggest?

I'm not sure the premise is sound -- that there is a set of rules that if you abide by them, you won't have a car burglarized. Well, besides one that includes "don't have a car," at least. What says that there must be such a set? It seems essentially unavoidable, in San Francisco.

this strategy just trades one risk for another. you're less likely to have your windows smashed, but more likely to find someone sleeping in your car in the morning. I'd rather deal with shattered glass than bodily excretions, personally.

Wait, was this the reason the cybertruck had a glass breaking demo?

San Francisco DA elect:

Boudin was born in New York City.[1] His parents, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were Weather Underground members.[2]

When Boudin was 14 months old, his parents were arrested for their role as getaway car drivers in the Brink's robbery of 1981 in Rockland County, New York.[1][3] His mother was sentenced to 20 years to life[4] and his father to 75 years to life for the felony murders of two police officers and a security guard.[5] After his parents were incarcerated, Boudin was raised in Chicago by adoptive parents Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who, like his parents, were members of the Weather Underground.[6] Kathy Boudin was released under parole supervision in 2003.[3][7]

Boudin descends from a long left-wing lineage. His great-great-uncle, Louis B. Boudin,[8] was a Marxist theoretician and author of a two-volume history of the Supreme Court's influence on American government, and his grandfather Leonard Boudin was an attorney who represented controversial clients such as Fidel Castro and Paul Robeson.[9] Boudin is also related to Michael Boudin,[8] a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and I.F. Stone, an independent journalist.[8][10]

Before law school, Boudin traveled to Venezuela and served as a translator in the administration of then-president Hugo Chávez.[12] After law school, from 2011-2012,


On the bright side, next election people are going to be fed up and elect someone who takes crime seriously.

There has to be a workable medium between progressive soft on crime, don’t blame the criminal and 3 three strikes tough on crime stances which make people irredeemable.


Look at the numbers of downvotes of the parent. I believe things will get worse before they get better.

>On the bright side, next election people are going to be fed up and elect someone who takes crime seriously.

I'll believe it when it happens.


Are you seriously judging someone by their great-great-uncle's book?

And why are you including a relative being a Appeals Court judge, and an independent journalist? Is "independent journalist" a code for something?


It seems like you've read an awful lot into what appears to be nothing more than a copy/paste of a bio, with no suggestions whatsoever on how to feel about any of it.

There are exactly one-and-a-half points of his bio in the text (one being cut off halfway). The rest is a list of relatives. If that doesn't imply a judgement based on his relatives, it's just completely pointless.

>Are you seriously judging someone by their great-great-uncle's book?

Not the person you're referring to but barring exceptional circumstances the apple can only fall so far from the tree.

That said, I don't see why being raised by a family full of super hardcore leftists has more than a passing impact on his politics wrt petty crime specifically. He could just as well have fallen on the "we should go hard on petty crime because it undermines social cohesion and respect for the rules of the state" side of things (obviously that's not how he turned out for reasons that are well documented but you get the point).


In interviews he has said his experience growing up with two parents doing time for whatever it was (accessory to murder?) influenced his view on crime and punishment.

As far as I'm aware, in 2019 only one country has an official policy of prejudging people based on the actions of their family members.

North Korea.

If my life had been weighed based on the actions of a few of my relatives, I would have been executed at birth.


Oh cut out the strawmanning. Obviously (one would hope it's obvious) we don't want the one entity that can use violence to officially or unofficially judge people based on their parents but individuals are not held to the same standards and expecting people's values to at least be correlated with the values of the people who raised them is not unreasonable and it's a pretty decent rule of thumb.

>expecting people's values to at least be correlated with the values of the people who raised them is not unreasonable and it's a pretty decent rule of thumb.

I'm more of a "content of one's individual character" guy.

And I'm not an proto-human from 500,000 years ago who has to rapidly distinguish friend from foe or face a painful death on a grassy plain in what is now Ethiopia so I have the wonderful luxury of being able to evaluate everyone individually.

Expecting people's values to at least be correlated with the values of the people who raised them is unreasonable and it is not a decent rule of thumb.

It is prejudice.

Here's a pretty good analysis of Patanjali's statements on prejudice (Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (4.24-28)):

>Prejudice is always based on misperception, which comes from ignorance. Ignorance arises from being told a lie and believing it and then continuing to tell yourself and others that lie—deepening your belief in it to such an extent that it affects how you see yourself and the others whom you are prejudiced against, resulting in a distortion of the truth. Prejudice is a mental affliction that pollutes the mind with deception. To rid yourself of prejudice, you must destroy the lie at the root. Only knowledge can burn prejudice at its root and reveal the truth.

Of course, there are many philosophies that repeat this or something virtually similar to this, and have done so for thousands of years so for a happy, more ethical, less prejudiced life you can take your pick.


You call it prejudice I call it trying to understand the lens through which people who's upbringing and life experience is different than mine see the world.

The need for heuristics that allow people to make decisions about other people with an incomplete amount of directly pertinent information is not going anywhere. If you know what someone's upbringing was that's much better information than no information.


There’s a YouTube channel Gas Station Encounters that videos shop lifters in their store in order to publicly shame them. They began publishing their videos out of frustration.

Besides being pretty funny, it gives you some perspective on the people who shoplift with no shame.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWAhPpdcWedLgaB1KJEvfqA


San Francisco is basically Gotham city without Batman and City hall is Arkham Asylum. The newly elected DA is bound to make it worse as he focuses on decriminalizing all non-violent crimes. In the words of my Uncle "You made your bed, now you must sleep in it.."

San Francisco is becoming a third world shithole, but with first world rent prices. Why would anyone choose to live there? Do people enjoy stepping in human feces and getting their cars stolen?

there's no choice. that's where all the jobs are.

software companies were incentivized to go to SF many years ago by the mayor/tax breaks then, which seems kinda corrupt, or at least misrepresenting the will of the people: most SF residents don't want tech companies there in the first place.


Conspiracy theory:

Allowing rampant car theft is yet another way rich San Franciscans - who can afford both indoor parking and new windows a few times a year - keep the non millionaire rabble away from the city.


Well it's working, because as one member of that non-millionaire rabble, after moving here a year ago I desire nothing less than to move right back out.

Numbers. How many suspects are actually set free because of this law? I suspect very few, and this is just a way to vilify those who want to look out for the working class and those in poverty. If lawmakers really want to solve car thefts, they need to look at the systemic economic problems that cause the need for such theft to occur, not look for more ways to put poor people in jail.

I know a lot of you guys all live in CA, and the bay area particularly. Just so you know: this stuff sounds like madness to an outsider reading the stories in this thread.

If things are actually the way some of you are describing them, it sounds like SF particularly is about to collapse completely. Yikes. I can't imagine living there, much less having kids there.


Came here to say the same thing. Sounds like the Bay Area is going the way of South Africa. The normalcy with which residents talk about crime sounds like an apocalyptic movie, not real life.

I used to spend a lot of time out there between 2000 and 2008 and I loved it. The bay area had a charm to it and I loved just exploring the whole area.

But now... I haven't been there in over 10 years but from what I'm hearing it sounds like a terrible place to visit, much less live. I really hope I'm wrong about that, or, at least they can turn things around. I'd like someday to take my kids there and show them the places I loved to visit.


It's mostly the same as ever, except (1) even more impossible for newcomers to get housing and (2) car break-ins are really at an insane level now. Everyone I know gets robbed once a year. As a visitor neither one is worth worrying about, just make it obvious there's nothing valuable in your car and don't park it anywhere too isolated.

The geography and history of the bay area make it quite charming. However it would be a lot more charming if people could live there peacefully and without threat of violence. SF is living on charm borrowed from accidents of history and benevolence of the creator. At some point it'll have to be paid back

"If things are actually the way some of you are describing them, it sounds like SF particularly is about to collapse completely."

It's all very sensationalist - all of it.

There are very small grains of truth (about needles and homeless and feces and car break-ins) that are spun out of all proportion.

As a resident of the SFBA and somebody that spends a fair amount of time in, and all over, the city, I can confirm all of it[1] ... but at the same time, SF is quite nice overall and I repeatedly have complete, multi-day interactions in the city with zero dysfunction.

[1] I have been the victim of one car break-in, I have had run-ins with people using the tenderloin as a toilet, etc.


> and I repeatedly have complete, multi-day interactions in the city with zero dysfunction.

I will echo the poster you replied to you. The fact that you're celebrating that you've experienced more than a single day without seeing crime (in a 1st world country) sounds like madness to much of the rest of the world.


> I repeatedly have complete, multi-day interactions in the city with zero dysfunction.

Translation: "I have up to 5 days a week where I experience dysfunction in SF"

Like, if your benchmark for "quite nice overall" is "I can go multiple days without seeing someone breaking into a car or shitting in the street", then your niceness-o-meter is whacked, to say the least.


Honestly, I find this comment hilarious.

Every time I've heard someone defending the Bay Area recently it sounds like utter normalization of the insane. You've been the victim of 'only' one car break-in yourself, have seen people shitting in the street, view the homeless and drug epidemic daily, and yet expect people to think these issues are overblown because they haven't happened for multiple days at points?

As someone from the outside looking in, I truly hope the U.S. gets their shit together, because it's looking pretty bleak at this point.


When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, I too had my car broken into multiple times, saw shitting in the street, passed out drunks on the bus, screaming in the grocery store, the works. Of course, none of this happened in the WASPy burbs.

The insane is in every city in the U.S., whether or not you find it during your daily life is another thing. It depends on whether you live in the rich city or the parallel working class city, and whether those two cities interface.

In cities where the rich are well separated from the working class (most of the east where the rich live in suburbs separated by distances only traversable by private car due to chronically poor transit), homeless is ignored because it's never seen way out in the suburbs.

In cities like the west cost and the few growing cities in the east, where rich people are moving into formerly working class inner city neighborhoods, of course there is now friction. The rich and working class cities are suddenly face each other directly and constantly, and the end result is the working class is pushed out as housing prices increase, or the rich leave again and it all collapses again.

Take LA. Way more homeless. Yet you get neighborhoods like hancock park, smack dab in the middle of the city, where you will just not see any homeless people, because there is no reason for anyone working class to set foot in that neighborhood. You are priced out of housing and priced out of even lattes. It's a rich suburb full of mansions, you aren't gonna get much panhandling done and will stand out like a sore thumb to police and private security who love doing favors to nagging rich white women without jobs.

But there are parts like downtown la, that used to have flophouses where drunks and addicts could actually rent housing. Or echo park that was a gangland in the 90s or a thriving working class latino community depending on whose reality you consult. Now 1brs cost 2k, the flophouses are bulldozed or renovated (or just get a new coat of paint), people commanding high salaries now interface with homeless and working class people and compete for the same apartments; the two cities merge in DTLA and echo park, as well as other neighborhoods in LA with increasing gentrification.

NYC has the most homeless of anywhere, 90k, and nearly half a million more living in public housing below market rents, but you don't see homeless encampments because NYC builds shelters and housing without NIMBY fuss; something like 95% of homeless are housed in NYC.

In any city you see these problems, and in cities with any semblance of demand that refuse to build supply to match, resulting in unaffordable housing for everyone not pulling >60k a year, you can see how this problem can grow exponentially larger. Never forget that the problem is present in every city, be it Columbus, NYC, LA, or Tulsa. The solutions are there and accepted in academic circles, but whether or not you see these solutions and their effect is directly reflective on the local political climate.


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> The Bay Area is, for better and for worse, the closest thing we have to a model of a progressive utopia. That means if the presence of things like homelessness, brown people, or property crime make you feel unsafe, you will feel less safe there than you will in Irvine, CA.

The thing about the Bay Area that is so frustrating is that other progressive cities in the world (mostly outside of the US) seem to do a much better job managing issues like homelessness, equality, property crime, access to education, etc, with less resources. So for people who love SF and want it to succeed as a progressive example, it's frustrating that it seems to fall short despite all that is invested.

We want _effective_ solutions. SF has unique challenges, but very few people would say it has been trending in the right direction over the last 10 years.

For example according to HUD's latest report, SF, Oakland/Berkeley and San Jose occupy _3 spots in the Top 5_ of US cities with the highest unsheltered homeless rates. NYC has way more individual homeless people than SF in total, but NYC shelters 95% of its homeless population and SF barely manages to shelter 20%. There are _more actual people_ sleeping on the streets of SF than NYC despite SF being a tiny city in comparison to NYC. It's absurd.


Correct. The amount of money the city had to throw at these problems shows how the American way of spending their way to solutions isn’t enough. There’s zero attempt at being thoughtful and recognize what’s working (and why) — instead everything is a ballot initiative that’s voted on emotionally.

It’s a total lack of leadership and quality of governance, which to me stems largely from years of capitalism mixed with reductions in government which has created a super powerful and motivated global private sector, and no civic pride and reasonable reward for those capable individuals to work for the public.

We need to find a way to get our superstars in power, and not necessarily at the top only. We need a capable, civic-minded, and results-focused class of doer powering government. When the wage gap is 3-10x between private and public, and no culture of pride and civic engagement, this is what happens.


How can you spend your way to a solution if you can't even build a homeless shelter in neighborhoods already filled with homeless people?

People vote for the bond, politicians say OK now lets build what the bond funding described, people say hell no not in my back yard, nothing gets done, then people turn on the bond, the politicians, the whole idea of the project, future bonds, and future projects. A generational wave of political apathy and distrust fueled by bizarre takes on reality, actively ignoring data, and devaluing expert opinion.

It happens everywhere, but is particularly a hamstringing issue in CA due to how much outsized influence local council members (in LA at least) have on what is ultimately civic planning decisions that should be driven solely by empirical data and academic theory.

Guess who actually shows up for these local elections and council meetings and maintains a firm grip on the councilmans ear? Not renters, not homeless, not millenials, predominately home owners over 50 who want to close their eyes, jam their fingers in their ears, and pretend like its '63 again, property tax rate and all.


Homeless shelters are a humanitarian bandaid. They do not end homelessness, especially because they do not address root causes.

>On the other hand, if what brings you comfort is seeing your government focus on long-term, systemic inequities instead of trying to paint over the superficial consequences of the same, then SF will feel a little better to you — Oakland moreso — and in Irvine you will live in fear of being summarily executed by the Secret Police.

You're saying that a long-term addressing of systemic inequities is done by turning the public space of the city into the lowest common denominator of behavior, so that we are all exposed to the worst of it?

Doesn't that sound like dragging everyone else down instead of bringing the oppressed up?


Irvine has simnifically less "systemic inequities" than anywhere in the the Bay Area, everyone here just has a lot of money.

And not sure what you are getting at with "the Secret Police", unless that is some sort of allusion to the fact that many of newer housing developments are heavily sold to foreign buyers in Mainland China or something.


> in Irvine you will live in fear of being summarily executed by the Secret Police.

What?


The Bay Area is not a progressive utopia, dystopia maybe. Progressive policies are enacted when they are easy, like banning juul for unrelated products killing dozens, and avoided when they are hard, like allowing cigarettes to continue to be sold while 500k die a year. Or taxing chemo patients some 30% on their medical marijuana.

I think the bay area and CA in general is chock full of DINOs. All the feel good social generally agreeable progressive policies are enacted, but the hard stuff, the stuff that actually matters like repealing prop13, support for that policy is highly conservative in nature even if just about everyone in CA government has a D next to their name. Rejecting public housing and social welfare programs is conservative in nature. Rejecting transit builds is conservative in nature. Rejecting increased housing supply is conservative in nature.

Everything you see in California politics is labelled liberal, democratic, progressive, literally everything and anything as the term has lost meaning.

Here is how you actually tell which way a policy leans: if it favors the rich individual instead of the working class collective it is by definition not progressive, not democratic, and firmly a conservative policy.

Individual profit over collective good is the unified platform of the Republican party in this country and is represented in CA politics by entrenched local cabals (LA city and county governments are essentially feudal states) even if the actual GOP is not.


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petty theft, like all theft, is not merely criminal - it is an act of violence and should be treated as such.

Very much like children, people operating at this level of development (god help them) will expand their behaviors to fit into whatever vacuum is present. Your "petty theft" graduates to "petty theft inside a home" which graduates to "petty theft inside a home oops there's a guy here oops now somebody is dead".

"We don't throw poor people in prison just because they had to break into a car to get money for their daily dose of crack."

I am part of that "we" and I say shame. Shame on you for lacking even the basic fortitude to respond to violence. Shame on you for excusing that violence in a bartered exchange for whatever moral permissiveness you, yourself, desire.


> SF is a beacon of hope. We don't throw poor people in prison just because they had to break into a car to get money for their daily dose of crack.

You should be throwing them in jail for that. Otherwise you just perpetuate the problem and they do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day. At what point are they responsible for their own actions in your eyes?

> you'll be able to get your drugs from the corner grocery store, and if you are too poor to pay for them you'll get them for free.

What could go wrong!?!1

> It's disgusting that in a city with so many billionaires people need to steal to make ends meet.

They don't need to steal. You have tons of outreach programs and if those are not enough and the cost of living is too high then a perfectly reasonable response is to get out of SF if they can't afford it.

refurb 5 days ago [flagged]

Save the sob story for another time. SFPD has said a number of times that most car thefts are due to criminal gangs.

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That's odd because when I look at non-capitalist countries like Venezuela on Wikipedia, there are lots of mentions of gangs.

Actually, the gang activity is much larger and more violent. How sure are you capitalism is the thing to blame here?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Venezuela


Not to mention "look at this set of problems that the furthest to the left metro area in the US has! It must be the fault of CAPITALISM!" kind of falls apart when plenty of other metro areas in the US don't share those problems.

I personally like petty theft being criminalized.

Agreed. Don't steal other people's stuff or you will go to jail seems like a pretty fair system to me.

As a recent transplant, it's as insane as it sounds.

These policies are taking the country by storm, because there's a new generation in town, and that generation feels strongly about the phrase, "criminal justice."

In New York state, January 1, 2020 a set of law changes take effect that reclassify many crimes to misdemeanors, turn arrests into desk tickets, and help expunge records. They want to go further than that (eliminate cash bail, and more). It's not quite as bad as California, but it's getting there.

In New York City specifically, the City Council / Mayor have in the past few years decriminalized quality-of-life crimes. In the (non-right-wing) press, they put it in quotes like this, "quality-of-life crimes" like it's some game, some ruse, or like quality of life is a meaningless sin or privileged pursuit. We should all suffer equally, is the implication. Meanwhile, the city has gotten noticeably less safe, with homeless people becoming more aggressive, open urinating / drug use (of the needle variety), and incidents inside the subway.

There's nothing worse than being forced to take an underground car, being locked with other people, and having other people screaming schizophrenic fantasies, or walking back and forth trying to hustle for money. Every day. Twice a day. 30-50 minutes+. It's an enforced suffering.

Guess what? If you're wealthy, you have a driver and/or you live near work, you live in a doorman building, and many other amenities. Dealing with street quality-of-life issues affects poor and middle-class people, which is what is personally so enraging about these so-called progressive ideals.


This is why vehicles like the cybertruck are increasingly needed. If the government has failed to protect us and our property, then we need to have more hardened property and take matters into our own hands.

Just as long as the burglars don't hit the window with a gently lofted marble right?

Didn't go through!

>“With approximately 70 auto burglaries a day”

That doesn’t seem like a crisis in a city the size of San Francisco.


San Fran has rougly 800k people and assuming that 70 cars gets stolen a day and everyone there has a car, that's a 3% chance that your car will get stolen within a year.

This doesn't obviously address the issue that I doubt there's even 400k cars there which more than doubles the likelyhood. That's not nothing, it's over 25k stolen cars in a year and an enormous burden on the local police force.


Car burglary != car theft. The 70/day number refers to break-ins, generally a broken car window and stolen belongings -- loose change, usb charger, fuzzy dice, laptop, whatever.

Don't forget the side window that costs a few hundred (at least) to replace.

I've been burgled (sp?) twice now and both times the window was intact. I think people who do this regularly have the tools the cops and tow guys have. Makes it look waay discrete rifling in a car with the door opened normally, you could probably do it in broad daylight in front of the police station and be fine.

Smash and grab makes sense if you don't have those tools and know no one, not even pedestrians, react to broken glass or car alarms in that part of town.


Yep, which is exactly why I haven't replaced mine after it got busted. Instead I "rebuilt" it with clear Gorilla Tape and a Prop 65 sign (because everything in California causes cancer, apparently).

Naturally, it's the one window that even my Haynes Book says "don't try replacing it yourself; hire a professional". Thanks, guy-who-desperately-wanted-my-jumper-cables-and-jump-box-out-of-the-back-of-my-car. Real considerate of you.


While I agree the car theft is different, let's not pretend losing your window and several goods (potentially linked to your livelihood) is simple to deal with.

3%? That seems fine, lock your bike to a light post and keep it overnight, I estimate the likelihood it's going to be stolen at 100%.

Of course, with both cars and bikes, police have much more important to do. That's the invariant: whatever the crime, there is surely something more worthy of their attention out there, so nothing is ever done.


What kind of argument is that, its not a race to the bottom...

Don't think parent is making an argument, just an observation. From personal experience where I live, most people wouldn't bother to even report a stolen bicycle or broken car window because there's so much more serious crime (gang violence etc) that police will inevitably treat your "petty" case as less important. It's terrible, but it's just the way of things in some places.

Want to solve more car break-in and bike theft cases? Authorize the police to roll the helicopters and armored personnel carriers to catch suspects. We've bought police all these toys and their not going to want to work a case unless they get to use them.

I'm only half-joking.


Google suggests there's approx 500,000 cars in SF (as of 2015). 70 burglaries a day is approx 0.01% of all cars.

edit: slightly disappointed I was downvoted for this; I literally just googled how many cars there were in SF and tried to work out the percentage. Am I factually incorrect? If not, can someone please explain what I've done wrong so I don't do it again, please.


And if you see httpsterio's comment, that's 0,01% a day, 3,65% in a year, which is huge. Insurance must be crazy high to accept that level of risk on average.

0.01% per day is not 3.65% per year. It's close, but that's not the correct way to combine probabilities. (If it were, flipping a coin twice would be guaranteed to produce a head because 50% + 50% = 100%)

For calculating probabilities, it's much easier to work in fractions than percentages, so I'll convert 0.01% to 0.0001 and equivalent for other percentages for the remainder of this comment.

If every day of the year, 0.01% of cars are broken into, the probably of being broken into is 0.0001 and the probably of being safe is 0.9999. To calculate the odds for a year, you need to take the being safe probability to the 365th power (0.9999^365). That gives 0.9642. This is the probability of being safe from break-ins for a year. You can subtract from 1 for the annual odds of being broken into: 0.0358.

0.01% per day is 3.58% per year. Also can continue to get longer term odds. Break-in chance is 30% over 10 years. At 19 years, it's 50/50 whether you'll be broken into. At this term, you get a big deviation from the incorrect calculation, which would give 0.01 * 19 * 365 = 69.35% chance of break-in over 19 years.

Of course, this ignores the uneven distribution of break-ins, etc., etc.


Your math is right but the numbers you based it on were not.

(70*365) / 500,000 = 0.0511

You have about a 5% chance of having your car stolen in SF annually.

Or to replicate your process:

70 / 500,000 = 0.00014

1 - 0.00014 = 0.99986

0.99986^365 = 0.950180248299

Again, about a 5% annual rate.


As others pointed out, this is break-ins, not cars being stolen. Typical cost of a break-in is one window. I have no idea how much that costs, but let's say $1000, which is probably 10x too much. That comes out to $1000 x 0.0364 = $36/yr.

This mindset that crime shouldn't be punished is so strange to me. Why is it okay for someone to go around breaking windows and stealing stuff? Because when the people realize they're suckers for following the law, they'll stop following the law, then everyone will be doing it, and there won't be enough police in the world to pick up the pieces.

I've always left nothing in the car and the doors unlocked in the hope that my windows won't be broken.

Not SF but I once had the cup holder/ashtray stolen from an old mini van I was driving, I assume because it had a few dollars in change in the ash tray.

More amusing than anything.

Cars are terrible for cities, doesn't bother me in the least that protecting tourist's cameras isn't an enforcement priority.

> Tourists are disproportionately targeted because they are more likely to have valuables in their cars


> Cars are terrible for cities, doesn't bother me in the least that protecting tourist's cameras isn't an enforcement priority.

What a flippant and short sighted thing to say. I've known people whose car was broken into and had their medical devices, medication, and clothes stolen. That's more of a problem than a tourist's camera.

Regardless of your opinion on car transportation in cities the idea that victims of a crime should take the blame because they left something valuable in their car and locked it is the same as saying a rape victim is at fault for the crime because of what they were wearing. It is pretty sickening.


Any crime is inherently evaluated as “worse” or “better” than another crime under most judicial systems, which is reflected in sentences and in allocation of police resources.

One can express their agreement with current allocation of resources without blaming victims for the crime, can’t they? To me, as to someone who knows a rape victim, likening car burglary to rape sounds much more horrific than that.

Did victim-blaming get edited out of the comment you were replying to after your post?


I see your point. To me, victim blaming was implied by implying tourists having their camera's stolen don't deserve help because they aren't street smart in SF. I am not saying police shouldn't allocate resources to 'worse' crimes but we shouldn't also say it is the tourist victim's fault (e.g. "They should've known better!". I think that's a slippery slope that is best avoided. I may have read too deeply into the intent behind that comment though.

> I may have read too deeply into the intent behind that comment though.

no, it absolutely did not

of course you can find a single example of a car robbery that isn't trivial.

Where did I say anything about it being someones fault? Of course in a perfect world there would be no theft but aggressive enforcement against car thefts isn't something I support in the real world.


It's also completely unenforceable. Pro theives use tools and you would think the guy owned the car if you saw someone properly break into a car, as there would be nothing to see. Can't have cops ask everyone to turn over their license and title for inspection for walking out of a car with a gym bag.



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