As if feces-strewn streets, needle-contaminated parks, and infectious diseases were not enough to repel potential tourists, a California law has resulted in a loophole that leaves many car break-ins unpunished.

Law enforcement is stymied by a state law that says it only counts as a felony burglary if the car doors were locked, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

“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,” Democratic state senator Scott Wiener, who proposed changing the law but got pushback for the second year in a row, told the Los Angeles Times in December.

According to a tracker published by the San Francisco Chronicle, an average of 66 “smash-and-grab” car thefts were reported each day in San Francisco in December. Many more go unreported.

Wiener stressed that many of the victims of car theft are tourists who have no way of returning to testify that their car doors were, in fact, locked.

And while San Francisco’s tourists suffer from the unintended consequences of California rules, California residents in the more-red, less-prosperous Central Valley are also dealing with rampant auto theft.

Nine of the top 20 metropolitan areas in car theft rate in the United States are located in California, including Valley cities Bakersfield, Merced, Modesto and Stockton, according to a new study from insurance shopping service Insurify.

Over 770,000 cars were stolen last year across the country. While that’s still a sizable number, thefts are down 55 percent since 1991.

According to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, over 2,000 cars are stolen every day.

So far, the state legislature has balked at one representative’s requests to plug the loophole and make obtaining convictions easier.

The proposal, which would 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 in legislative committees. Lawmakers struggling with prison crowding and public pressure to enact criminal justice reform have been reluctant to do anything to put more people behind bars.

But local officials and the legislator behind the bill say the legislation is needed to help chip away at a statewide car burglary problem that they believe has reached crisis levels in some cities.

“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,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who introduced the legislation at the request of the San Francisco district attorney’s office.

How out of control is the situation? This week, officers arrested four car burglary suspects after slamming into a parking control officer’s vehicle on a busy San Francisco street.

Uber dashcam video obtained by ABC7 News shows the parking control officer attempting to make a u-turn when a white van carrying the four suspects collides with the vehicle. The parking control officer’s car flips onto its side and slides into a nearby car.

In the video, you can see the four suspects run from the scene. Officers were able to track them down and arrest them.

“At the time I didn’t know that the people were running away from breaking into cars,” said rideshare driver David P.

The parking control officer was taken to the hospital with non-life threatning injuries.

But David, who drives 12 to 15 hours a day, is fed up with the break-ins.

“I think it’s horrible. I see it all day long. I see broken glass all the time,” said David.

In conclusion: It looks like in addition to feces, the streets of San Francisco are paved with shattered glass.


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