LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Auto thefts and other property crimes were on the rise following a statewide initiative to release more California inmates early, according to a new study.
KNX 1070's Pete Demetriou reports it's the first independent study of crime trends driven by the "realignment" program to reduce the state prison population.
Study: Auto Theft, Other Property Crimes Jump After Early Inmate Release
Researchers with the Public Policy Institute of California found property crimes statewide jumped by about 8 percent and auto thefts surged by over 15 percent, resulting in about 24,000 more cars stolen since realignment began in 2011.
About 18,000 offenders who previously would be behind bars are currently free because of early releases or jail diversion programs, the researchers estimate.
After an alarming 50 percent rise in smash-and-grab burglaries last week, LAPD's Pacific Division is advising residents to be cautious of leaving valuable items in their cars.
"The reason that's of concern to us is generally that's a crime of opportunity, a bad guy's walking by a car, sees an iPhone, an iPad, maybe a Christmas gift on the seat and decides to smash the window to take that thing out of the vehicle," said Lieutenant Steve Lurie.
While violent crimes did not increase after realignment, the study found that property crime increased as inmates who previously would have gone to state prisons were instead sent to county jails, which often freed them early due their own overcrowding problems.
Crime remains at historically low levels, said Deborah Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Realignment's impact "will be measured over years, not months," she said in a statement on behalf of the administration.
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