SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Tom Lackey, whose 36th District includes portions of the Santa Clarita Valley, recently introduced a bill to close a state loophole that allows vehicle break-ins to go unpunished. AB 395 would make forcibly entering a vehicle with the intent to commit theft a crime punishable by imprisonment.
According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, vehicle burglaries or “smash-and-grabs” have increased since more drivers are not using or checking their vehicles for longer periods of time due to the pandemic. The latest statistics from the California Department of Justice’s dataset show that vehicle burglaries have been on the rise.
“It takes merely seconds to break into a vehicle and steal valuable items, but its effect on the victim lasts much longer,” Lackey, R-Palmdale, said. “This bill signifies that Californians have had enough with letting offenders walk away without punishment, and it is time for the state to hold offenders accountable for the distress they cause for victims.”
Existing law requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the vehicle’s doors were locked for the crime to be considered felony burglary. Even with evidence of forced entry (e.g., smashed window), the vehicle’s owner still has to prove in court that their vehicle was locked. This process becomes burdensome for victims who have their vehicles broken into while visiting other cities.
AB 395 is similar to AB 1921 (2020), which did not receive a hearing last year due to pandemic related circumstances. AB 395 is pending referral to a policy committee where it is expected to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety.
Assemblyman Lackey proudly represents the 36th Assembly District, which contains portions of Kern, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties, including the communities of Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Quartz Hill, Acton, Boron, Littlerock, Pearblossom, Mojave, Rosamond, California City, Phelan, and Piñon Hills.