If Your Car Is Stolen in California, You Have to Prove Your Doors Were Locked

Blame the thief? No way!  If someone’s walking by and notices the doors of your parked car are unlocked, well, that’s the same as putting up a sign that says, “Please, take anything you want.”  Or at least, that’s how prosecutors treat the situation in California.

To move forward on an auto burglary charge, California state prosecutors require proof that the vehicle was locked.  This puts the police in a bind when they can’t easily recall witnesses for testimony.  Thieves have learned the system, so they target tourists.

The result is what you’d expect, a jump in auto burglaries, with few prosecutions.

State Senator Scott Weiner introduced legislation to close the loophole, but so far the legislature hasn’t taken it up.

Weiner said:

“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.”

The legislation has been shelved two years in a row by committees.  Weiner doesn’t know the reason that the bill can’t make its way out of committee, but others speculate that legislators don’t want to do anything that will increase the number of people behind bars in an already crowded prison system.


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