By Phillip Chen & Don Barnes
Full Article: https://www.ocregister.com/2021/04/14/stopping-the-rise-in-vehicle-burglaries-phillip-chen-and-don-barnes/
Date: April 14, 2021
“As COVID continues to grip our nation’s collective attention, the menace of car thefts and burglaries are growing in the darkness.
New data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported a 9.2 percent increase in auto thefts in 2020 over the previous year, a boost of more than 73,000 thefts nationwide. According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen every 42 seconds in the U.S., totaling a value of $6.3 billion per year.
In California, more than 151,000 cars and trucks were stolen in 2019, at an estimated total value of approximately $1.2 billion, according to the California Highway Patrol. The Golden State leads the nation in the number of auto crimes involving drivers who leave keys or fobs inside their cars and trucks.
CHP data shows during the first six months of 2020 there were 24,850 vehicle thefts in Los Angeles County, which is nearly a 22-percent increase over the same period the previous year. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reports 19 stations have seen increases in grand theft auto, and 15 of those stations saw double-digit increases.
In Orange County, the Sheriff’s Department reported there were 7,832 vehicle thefts between January 2020 and October 2020 or a 29 percent increase in vehicle thefts compared to the same period in 2019, in their service areas. This reflects a theft rate of 26 vehicles per day or 1 per hour.
We cannot allow these trends to continue.
Law enforcement attributes the spike in auto crimes to drivers being at home and not using or checking on their vehicles, giving criminals an opportunity.
Additionally, the theft of catalytic converters, a critical emissions-control device that contains precious metals, has spiked. Due to stricter emission rules around the world, particularly in China, the new requirement has increased the global demand for the precious metals in catalytic converters, such as palladium and rhodium, to record highs.
In a recent article, the New York Times reported that today the price of palladium is more than $2,500 per ounce, compared to five years ago when it was merely $500 per ounce. Rhodium prices have surged by more than 3,000 percent over the past five years, from $640 an ounce to $25,850 an ounce—nearly 15 times the cost of gold.
This is why we have introduced, Assembly Bill 308, to combat the increase of vehicle thefts in California. It would create a Vehicle Burglary and Auto Theft Task Force in three multi-county regions, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura, and Bay Area counties, which areas hit hardest by vehicle theft.
Membership in the task force would include the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department and other major law enforcement agencies.
Additionally, the bill would provide critical funding to identify and apprehend vehicle burglars, particularly those who cross jurisdictional boundaries to commit such crimes. It would also assist other non-participating agencies by sharing information and best practices.
Please join us in supporting AB 308 by contacting your state representative and asking them to support this important bill. Together, we can give law enforcement the tools needed to stop vehicle burglaries and to prosecute criminals to the fullest extent of the law.
Phillip Chen represents portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties in the State Assembly. Don Barnes is the Sheriff-Coroner for Orange County.“