Posted by on January 23, 2018
Categories: Bay Area

A bill being introduced into the Legislature by state Sen. Scott
Wiener, D-San Francisco, may help deter vehicle break-ins where in San
Francisco they have become an epidemic, Wiener’s office said today.

Senate Bill 916 would allow prosecutors to prove that a defendant
committed an auto burglary if the burglar broke a window in the vehicle,
which to date has been deemed insufficient to get a conviction.

Under current law, one of the elements prosecutors must prove
beyond a reasonable doubt is whether the vehicle was locked, according to
Wiener’s office.

But there are situations that make that hard to do. An offender
could break a window and then open the door and leave it open after a
break-in. An offender could also break a window and the victim could forget
whether they locked the door.

A disproportionate number of break-ins are occurring among
tourists driving rental cars, according to Wiener’s office.

In those cases, a victim may be unavailable to testify whether the
door was locked.

In San Francisco, 28,395 vehicle break-ins occurred between
January and the end of November of last year.

That was up 26 percent over the same period in 2016, according to
police data. Wiener’s office said auto break-ins have tripled since 2010.

Prosecutors take action in 80 percent of break-in cases and Wiener
and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who is co-sponsoring the
bill with state Assemblymen David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Phil Ting, D-San
Francisco, want to increase that percentage.

“The explosion in auto break-ins we’re experiencing is
unacceptable, and we need to ensure our police and district attorney have all
the tools they need to address it,” Wiener said in a statement.

Gascon, in a statement, said, “The community’s skyrocketing number
of auto break-ins is a stain on our quality of life. For visitors it can ruin
a vacation to our amazing city.”