Taking action on crime
By Phil Ting
Taking action on property crime
It’s a disturbing trend: automobile break-ins are on the rise in San Francisco. Every day,
we walk by broken glass on our sidewalks, both downtown and in our neighborhoods.
While the overall crime rate in California remained essentially steady from 2010 to 2017,
San Francisco reported a nearly 20 percent increase in property crimes.
Nobody is immune; my car was broken into while I dropped my daughter off at school.
In the few minutes it took me to walk her inside, an individual who had been casing cars
smashed my window and took my computer bag.
In hindsight, I should have put my bag in the trunk or otherwise out of sight. We can all
take steps like these to reduce the likelihood of becoming victims of theft. Neighbors of
the famous tiled steps at 16th Avenue and Moraga Street have put up homemade signs
advising visitors to hide valuables, and they have banded together in a neighborhood
watch to keep eyes on the street.
Individual and neighborhood actions like these are important, but local and state
governments have a responsibility to address this problem. For example, San Francisco’s
Board of Supervisors has passed legislation to remove identifying marks from rental
cars, frequent targets for break-ins. Similar legislation is being discussed at the
In my role as a state legislator, but also as a concerned neighbor and parent, I am
committed to addressing this epidemic.
First, I am co-authoring Assembly Bill (AB) 1065, which establishes “organized retail
theft” as a felony. Charges can be combined across multiple counties, allowing for a
stronger case to be brought instead of piecemeal prosecutions.
Additionally, police can detain individuals arrested for a misdemeanor if they have been
previously cited, arrested or convicted of theft, including auto break-ins, three times
within the previous six months. Courts can issue bench warrants for those who fail to
appear. These tools empower law enforcement to take repeat offenders off the street.
I have also signed on as a co-author to state Sen. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill (SB) 916,
which closes a loophole that previously prevented prosecution of some break-ins. It
would allow a broken window to be used for evidence of forced entry; currently,
it must be proven that the vehicle was locked.
Lastly, I am in the process of authoring legislation to address an issue that has been in
the news recently. Sharkey Laguana, CEO of San Francisco-based rental car company
Fandango, used the power of Twitter to tell the story of how the law, in essence,
prevented him from getting a stolen rental van back and recovering his property as
quickly as possible. My legislation will help Bandango and other rental companies
protect their vehicles.
San Francisco is an expensive enough place to live; we shouldn’t have to spend hundreds
of dollars each year to replace broken car windows and stolen items. Together, we can
take action to address this growing problem.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San
Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City.