California bill would simplify prosecution of vehicle break-ins

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/8/2019

An effort underway at the California statehouse is intended to close a loophole when prosecuting cases involving vehicle break-ins.

State law now defines the crime of burglary to include entering a vehicle when the doors are locked with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny or a felony. The crime is classified as a misdemeanor.

Effectively, prosecutors are required to provide proof that the vehicle door was locked as evidence of burglary.

Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, has introduced a bill to do away with the requirement. Instead, his bill would make forcibly entering a vehicle with the intent to commit theft a felony.

SB23 would permit evidence that a window was broken as proof of burglary. The maximum punishment would be up to three years behind bars.

Weiner says the switch would reduce the need for a victim to testify in person for the crime to be punished as a felony.

“We need to close this loophole and make very clear if the district attorney can prove that a person bashed in a window and forcibly entered a car it doesn’t matter whether that car door was locked. That person is guilty of auto break-in,” Weiner said during a recent news conference in San Francisco.

A similar effort from Weiner one year ago failed to advance from the Senate Appropriations Committee to the Senate floor for consideration.

At the time, in comments provided by the committee show that creating a new term of incarceration could result in an increase in prison terms. The panel added the result would be an exacerbation of prison overcrowding.

Weiner’s bill awaits assignment to committee.

Route 710

A separate bill, SB7, would prohibit the California Department of Transportation from implementing a freeway tunnel or surface freeway or expressway for Route 710 between Route 10 and Route 210. The Assembly version is AB29.

The 4.5-mile extension of the Long Beach Freeway from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra through South Pasadena and from Pasadena to the 210 Freeway has been a point contention for decades. Caltrans recently put an end to consideration of an extension by tunnel.

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