Fact of the Day: Prop 6 and Car Theft

The cost of one vehicle theft sentence under Prop. 6 is 16 times the average loss sustained by a victim of vehicle theft.

Prop. 6 will force the state to spend over one hundred thousand dollars to detain people convicted of participating or assisting in a vehicle theft. But the average loss to a victim of vehicle theft is $6,646, according to a report by JFA Associates.

Proposition 6 creates six distinct one-year enhancements for principals or accessories involved in a car theft (see post below for a full list of new penalties). It also limits the court’s authority to grant probation in cases involving joyriding or auto theft if the defendant has 2 or more prior violations.

The average time served currently for vehicle theft is 17 months, a cost to the state of over $60,000 in prison and jail fees. Any of these sentence enhancements will nearly double the time served by principals or accessories involved in vehicle theft. The cost to taxpayers for any of these one-year sentence enhancements is $46,000 per offender, according to the Legislative Analyst.

Vehicle theft is already on the decline without any help from Prop. 6. According to the Attorney General, from 2005 to 2007 (the most recent data available), the rate of vehicle theft in California fell by 16 percent. More historically, the rate of vehicle theft declined by 7.2 percent from 2002 to 2007 and by 43 percent from 1992 to 2007.

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