Wave of Bay Area car break-ins leads to new legislation

31 break-ins and car thefts at CSUEB in the last two semesters
By Jeremy Truesdell, CONTRIBUTOR
Broken glass and blaring car alarms to a college student on a budget can be one of the worst things to experience. Replacing valuables such as a laptop or textbooks are expensive enough, in addition to the cost of car repairs after a break-in.
In order to address this issue, California State Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-District 25) is proposing new legislation to combat the recent tide of vehicle break-ins in the Bay Area.
“As a follow-up to his $3.75 million funding allocation to local police departments to help address [vehicle break-ins], Assemblymember Kansen Chu plans to introduce legislation this month to increase penalties on those committing car break-ins and property theft,” according to a press release done by Chu’s office. “Specifically, these crimes will be considered as a felony if electronic devices with personal information were stolen.”
“‘Smash-and-grabs and stealing valuables are not just petty crimes. They cause real economic hardship and stress for many families,” Chu said. “A broken car window can mean unexpected repair costs, lack of reliable transportation, and unplanned time off from work.”
Repairing damages to a vehicle after a break-in can be the least of your worries.
“On top of the damages, when electronic devices are stolen, valuable confidential and sentimental data are compromised and sometimes cannot be replaced.’”
State Senator Scott Weiner (D-District 11), is pushing for SB-23 which redefines the criteria for prosecuting auto burglary to exclude requiring proof that a burglarized vehicle was locked. In addition, it was stated, “Damaged cars and stolen property can significantly harm people, make our neighborhoods less safe, and our cities less visitor friendly. This loophole in the Penal Code can lead to cases being dropped or charges reduced even when the evidence of burglary is clear. Our effort to close this loophole will make our neighborhoods safer.”
For some students, their major classes require them to take care of expensive equipment and they are held accountable for returning it damage-free.
“I work down at the video lab for the comm department and every semester we check out different equipment (cameras, audio equipment, light kits, etc.) to students in media production classes,” student Kelsey Marasigan told the Pioneer. “In the past two semesters I’ve worked here we have had three different accounts of students getting their borrowed equipment stolen from their cars. It really puts a toll on us at the lab and the department because someone has to be held responsible and pay to replace the equipment.”
Between October 9th, 2019 and February 17th, 2020, the Hayward Police Department reported eight larcenies from vehicles and 12 vehicle thefts (Source: Crimemapping.com as directed by HPD). During the same period, CSUEB campus police reported nine auto burglaries and two reports of “tampering with vehicles,” according to the University PD crime log.
The financial liability of tuition and other school expenses is already an efficient amount of responsibility for students. However, the contribution of repairing a car break-in can add an abundant amount of stress.