The California Attorney General's Office released their findings regarding property crimes in a Preliminary Report covering January 2009 through December 2009, reporting that property crimes were down 11% in California during the year 2009 compared to 2008. There were 413,661 property crimes reported in 2008 and 367,745 property crimes reported in 2009. Crimes categorized as property crimes and included in the report were burglary, automobile theft and larceny- theft crimes of over $400.00. The statistics were compiled from 87 agencies consisting of police, sheriff and cities that contracted for their police because they did not have their own police force with populations over 100,000.
Broken down by category:
• Burglary decreased 5% from 147,101 in 2008 to 139,703 in 2009.
• Motor vehicle theft decreased 17.4% from 126,739 in 2008 to 104,742 in 2009.
• Larceny crimes over $400.00 decreased 11.8% from 139,821 in 2008 to 123,300 in 2009.
Even with the high unemployment California is facing, when interviewed earlier in the year, before he resigned as Los Angeles Police Chief, Chief Bratton was quoted as saying the reason crime is down in Los Angeles is that "cops matter." In fact, during his six years as Los Angeles Police Chief, crime declined in Los Angeles. Crime experts contribute the LAPD's success to their well organized efforts on tracking crime trends and sending police to problem areas as well as the LAPD's continuous programs working with religious groups, outside agencies, the community and cracking down on gangs. Other explanations for the decline in California crime rates during 2009 are that more people are at home because they have lost their jobs giving criminals less opportunity to commit home burglaries, auto thefts and larceny. While others explain the crime decline as the population is aging and older persons commit fewer crimes. Other criminologists see the economy as playing a major force in the rise in crime rates as the demand for stolen goods increase because more people will be looking for cheaper prices on the black market and at local street markets.
California Penal Code 487- California Grand Theft Law
California Penal Code 487defines burglary as "entering a home, shop, etc. with the intent to steal." So if you enter a home or business with the premeditated intent to commit a burglary and you carried out the plan, you could be convicted of grand theft and burglary. However, if the property you took was under $950.00, then you may only be convicted of petty theft. If you receive stolen property knowing that it was stolen, you could be convicted of grand theft misdemeanor or a felony depending on circumstances of the case and your criminal history record. If you use a firearm to commit a burglary or petty theft, the crime is considered a grand theft felony and a strike on your record. Convictions for grand theft misdemeanors carry a sentence of up to one year in the county jail. A grand theft felony conviction carries a sentence of 16 months, two years or three years in a California State Prison. There are additional consecutive sentences of one year if the property you took is worth more than $65,000, two years if the property was worth more than $200,000, three years if the property was worth more than $1,300,000 and four years if the property was worth more than $3,200,000. A conviction for property crimes should be taken seriously. You should consult a criminal defense attorney upon your arrest to defend you.