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South Bay Lawmaker Pushes For Felony Charges In Car Thefts Targeting Electronics

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Car break-ins have become an epidemic in California and most of those crimes don't result in an arrest or successful prosecution. But one state lawmaker wants to change that.

"We know that people risk their life to save their personal devices," said Rep. Kansen Chu.

Recognizing all the valuable information stored on our phones, tablets and laptops, Chu wants to make it a felony to steal electronic devices, even if they don't meet the current $950 threshold that separates felonies from misdemeanors.

"I just want to provide another tool to the police department so they can prioritize car break-ins and property theft," Chu said.

Car break-ins and the theft of electronic devices have spiked in cities across the Bay Area, but the crimes are rarely solved by police departments or prosecuted by district attorney offices, leaving victims of the crimes increasingly frustrated.

"They're becoming more and more prevalent. And I think something needs to be done to deter that," said Mike Hokanson. Hokanson had his car broken into recently. He supports tougher laws for the criminals responsible.

"I felt violated quite honestly. My wife's brand-new purse with all of our credit cards, the keys to our home, etc. So, it's a pretty big deal," he said.


In 2014, voters in California approved Prop 47. It was meant as criminal justice reform, designed to shrink the state's prison population and set the $950 threshold for crimes to be charged as a felony.

It's not clear if Chu's bill could carve out an exemption for electronic devices, but those frustrated by rising property crimes say something needs to be done.

Chu hopes to introduce the legislation as early as next week,

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