Yesterday, another smash-and-grab robbery was committed at a jewelry store in Pasadena. During the robbery, the suspect or suspects used pepper spray to disable the store’s owner, Samuel Babikian, who was helping a customer when he was attacked by masked suspects. The suspects made off with over $500,000 in jewelry.
“It was so fast, so quick,” he said. “I didn’t even see anybody.” He estimates some $500,000 in jewels were gone in seconds. It happened Tuesday afternoon at the Jewels on Lake store. Valerie Hoffman was the customer Babikian was helping. She managed to dodge the spray to see at least five bandits wearing ski masks.
Smash-and-grab robberies and burglaries are becoming so common that every day, we hear or see another story about another store getting victimized, and the overwhelming majority of these crimes are being committed in California, specifically in Los Angeles. You might get a few different answers, depending on who you talk to about why it’s happening here at such an alarming rate.
If you talk to police officers, prosecutors, and/or conservative leaders, you will hear a common thread with the majority going toward California’s Propositions 47 and 57. Until fairly recently, Democrats and liberal district attorneys (we will get to Gascon in a bit) have flat-out denied that 47 and 57 had anything to do with it. Shockingly enough, far-left California Attorney General Rob Bonta has hinted that there just might be some “causation.”
👀 @AGRobBonta today on whether Props 47/57 causing more crime:
“Some folks are wondering if there is causation between those propositions and what we’re seeing today, and there may be,” backs “tweaks and changes “to address an unintended consequence or keep people safe.”
— Jeremy B. “Name, Position, Organization” White (@JeremyBWhite) March 4, 2022
In my experience as a peace officer, I was working patrol when then-Governor Jerry Brown signed AB109 into law. AB109 was what they called a “prison realignment” initiative, which would help with overcrowding by sending state prison inmates who met the security standards to county jails across the state. However, that’s not where it ended. To further reduce the prison population, it now allowed inmates to petition for early parole on most crimes. Exceptions like murder, rape, and some others weren’t allowed to get early releases.
AB109 went even further by allowing inmates released early to be paroled in a status of “non-revocable parole,” or NRP. Normally, when an inmate is paroled, they have to abide by certain conditions of that parole, and if they violate those conditions, they are forced to return to prison and finish the rest of their sentence plus an additional two years for the parole violation. So if someone gets paroled on an assault with a deadly weapon conviction, a condition of that parole is they can’t have or possess any deadly weapon. If I were to arrest a parolee like that and he had a weapon on him, I could violate his parole right then and there, arrest him, and he goes straight back to prison, no trial or anything. It was a vital tool for us to keep dangerous people off the street.
But with NRP, if I were to contact that same person carrying a knife, for example, I couldn’t violate his parole. I’d have to arrest him on a fresh charge, and the entire criminal proceeding process would start from the beginning. When that passed, parolees hit the street under their NRP status and violated their paroles in the hundreds. They all knew our hands were tied and took the chance of getting a fresh charge and getting that charge reduced or even dropped. Without a doubt, our job got that much harder, along with the prosecutors who had to handle the cases, but most importantly, more people were victimized.
What Propositions 47 and 57 did, however, was to completely change the game and massively exacerbate an already troublesome criminal justice policy that AB109 created. Prop 47, which then-Attorney General Kamala Harris named “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” to fool all the voters who never read the actual proposition before voting on it, was passed by voters in 2013. The measure reduced several felonies to misdemeanors and increased the monetary threshold for theft to be considered a felony to $950. Then, the most idiotic part was a provision that made possession of a stolen firearm a felony only if the gun was valued at $999 or more. Criminals saw this and rejoiced, as they felt they could do anything they wanted to get away with or, at most, get a slap on the wrist.
Criminal filings, not to mention arrests, plummeted. In order for an officer to make arrests for misdemeanor crimes in California, those crimes have to be committed in their presence. Otherwise, a citation (notice to appear) is issued, and the suspect is either released in the field or immediately after booking. LA County District Attorney George Gascon (who authored Prop 47 and has never filed or even prosecuted a felony case in his entire career), ever since taking office in 2020, has instructed his staff to stop filing weapons enhancements, not seek death penalty in cases where it’s applicable, and more. Johnathan Hatami, who serves as an Assistant District Attorney in LA County and is running against Gascon, is not the only critic of Gascon.
George Gascón just sent out an email this morning asking for money & support – regarding the massive spike in smash & grab burglaries and mob-style department store robberies Gascón claims that he “will hold all of these individuals accountable and we will never stop fighting to…
— jonathanhatami (@jonathanhatami) August 23, 2023
Policies like Props 47 and 57 don’t just have “causation”; they’re directly responsible for these crimes, along with extreme liberals like Gascon who refuse to hold people accountable for their crimes and give special treatment to all kinds of criminals.
In the first seven months of 2023 under Gascón, LA City had 2,912 “reported” department store crimes. In the first seven months of 2020, before Gascón took office, there were 912. That’s 2,000 more reported crimes under Gascón in LA City alone-over a 200% increase.
— jonathanhatami (@jonathanhatami) August 22, 2023
Californian voters have had enough of these crimes and others. A poll conducted last year by UC Berkeley says Californians are fed up with the status quo and want change.
A whopping 66% say Gov. Gavin Newsom is doing a poor or very poor job on homelessness. 51% say he is doing a poor or very poor job on crime. And 59% of voters now want Proposition 47 changed to prosecute more misdemeanors as felonies. The governor’s approval rating stands at 48% of registered voters, a 16-point decline since September when he defeated the recall.
The only remaining thing that can be done right now is for elected leaders like mayors, city council members, police chiefs, and sheriffs to take the gloves off and start going after these thugs with an iron fist. Work with your set of rules and exploit every opportunity to suppress the crimes and arrest the suspects. Otherwise, you invite more stores and more hard-working Americans to be victimized. Time to start fighting for us and not worry about the feelings or concerns of these thugs.