Greenfield: California Legalized Theft. Porch Piracy Soared.
California legalized theft with Proposition 47. Since then pharmacies and small businesses have been forced to shut down by a wave of shoplifters with nothing to fear from the law.
But it’s not just stores that are reeling from the crime wave unleashed by criminal justice reform.
Proposition 47 was passed in 2014. LAPD crime data shows that package thefts shot up from 500 to 700 between 2014 to 2015. By 2016, they rose to 1,000, and 1,200 in 2017.
Legalizing theft didn’t just hit stores, but led to an epidemic of ‘porch piracy’.
In Los Angeles, brazen criminals took to driving behind delivery trucks and stealing the packages as soon as they were delivered. Others dressed up in Amazon uniforms.
But nowhere was the problem as bad as in the pro-crime metropolis of San Francisco.
Porch piracy has been growing across America alongside the Black Lives Matter riots and the election of Democrat mayors, council members, and prosecutors who support criminals.
In 2018, less than a third of people responding to a survey said that they had been ripped off, but by 2020, the number had shot up all the way to 43%. One survey estimated that porch pirates had been responsible for over $5 billion in thefts in cities across the country.
But San Francisco has topped the nation in package thefts for two years straight.
It’s no coincidence that California, which has led the way in legalizing crime, accounts for three of the top ten cities for porch pirates and that the state ranks third in the nation. But San Francisco has been unique in its tolerance for crime and contempt for crime victims.
Pharmacies have been shutting down across San Francisco due to the shoplifting epidemic, and as the nation’s Big Tech capital turned to online retail, the thieves turned to porch piracy. Big Tech companies have urged homeowners to adopt high tech solutions like doorbell cameras, but recording the thieves is next to useless when nothing happens to them.
One article chronicled a multi-year effort by a socialist union leader, a Google employee, and a lesbian BLM supporter to stop a heroin addict who was repeatedly caught stealing packages. The junkie blamed racism, and refused to show up in court. Police officers came, wrote her tickets, and she went right on stealing. Judges issued bench warrants, and then released her, telling her to report to drug rehab, and she went right back to stealing. While one of her victims was in court waiting for the case to be heard, the thief was stealing packages from his porch.
She was hit with a stay-away order, forced to wear an ankle monitor, and none of it helped.
When a trial finally happened, she was convicted and sent to a drug rehab program. She failed drug tests, refused to show up for hearings, went on stealing packages, and was sentenced to more drug rehab.
And that’s what happens when people spend a lot of time and effort to try and get justice.
San Francisco is both the epicenter of the tech industry and the pro-crime movement. Big Tech donors have fueled the rise of pro-crime prosecutors like George Gascon and Chesa Boudin, even as they have cashed in by selling doorbell cameras and package security systems. But surveillance technologies are useless when there’s no law enforcement to back them up.
A packaging supply company conducted a survey and found that the “four states with the lowest search rates of package theft (Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas came 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively) were all southern states.” The company concluded that “the south is safer from porch piracy than the north.” But California isn’t the north. The issue isn’t geography, it’s the law.
A bill to criminalize porch piracy was killed last year. It’s been reintroduced again this year.
“It doesn’t matter how many times somebody steals a package, it’s still only a misdemeanor. And in California right now, a misdemeanor is usually a citation. People aren’t showing up for their court dates or not paying the misdemeanors, and they just keep on stealing from people’s porches,” Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) noted.
Why shouldn’t porch pirates steal packages when all they come away with is a citation?
As long as the porch pirates steal less than $950 worth of packages, it’s classified as petty theft. The same decriminalization of theft that led to an epidemic of shoplifting, forcing stores and pharmacies to close, has also led to a boom in porch piracy. When brick-and-mortar stores close, that leaves people more dependent on online deliveries and vulnerable to porch pirates.
In an economy dominated by Big Tech, porch piracy, like everything else, has become a weapon in a rivalry between unfathomably huge companies. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his radical leftist wife, Patty Quillin, have been some of the biggest pro-crime donors.
The Netflix CEO was the sixth biggest donor for Proposition 47. The Big Tech boss vastly outspent pro-victim donors opposed to legalizing theft. While legalizing theft had little impact on Netflix, whose big product is an online subscription service, it’s hurting Amazon, one of its biggest video streaming competitors. Ordinary Californians are just Netflix’s collateral damage.
Homeowners are turning to locked delivery boxes and rigged packages. A cottage industry of companies provides doorstep security solutions and YouTube is full of guides to rigging up every type of package trap from glitter bombs to fouler concoctions to surprise porch pirates.
But no matter what homeowners do, the rates of porch piracy keep rising because glitter bombs will never be as effective a deterrent as a working criminal justice system.
Proposition 47 hasn’t just hurt stores. The thieves empowered by criminal justice reform have stolen birthday presents, prom dresses, and priceless heirlooms. They’ve destroyed special days and stolen moments that can never be replaced. And above all else they’ve robbed millions of ordinary people of their sense of security in their own homes.
California’s experiment in legalizing theft has been successful in stealing public safety.