Study: Reduced criminal penalties contributed to more thefts

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Researchers say California voters’ decision to reduce penalties for drug and property crimes in 2014 contributed to a jump in thefts, particularly car burglaries and shoplifting.

The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California reported Tuesday that larcenies increased about 9 percent by 2016, or about 135 more thefts per 100,000 residents than if tougher penalties had remained.

Thefts from motor vehicles accounted for about three-quarters of the increase. San Francisco alone recorded more than 30,000 auto burglaries last year, which authorities largely blamed on gangs.

The institute says Proposition 47 did not lead to any increase in violent crime. It also helped reduce prison and jail populations.

A proposed ballot measure intended for the November election includes a partial roll-back, allowing prison sentences for serial thieves.

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