A San Diego Association of Governments crime trends report released this month shows data indicating that crimes against property increased eight percent in the City of Vista and four percent in neighboring Oceanside.
The tracking of these statistics is done in a standardized manner, according to the SANDAG report, which uses the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system and designates crimes against property as being burglary, larceny or motor vehicle theft.
And while Sheriff Bill Gore believes that the "big picture is really good,” for most of the San Diego region, he is quoted in a story by Pauline Repard of the UT stating that he does not see "anything really to be concerned about right now.”
AB 109 and lower-level offenders
Since at least August 2012, City Manager Patrick Johnson of Vista indicated that he was watching the crime rate numbers right along with local law enforcement officials in light of the California Prison Realignment plan, which took effect in Oct. 2011. In an April 5 press release of that year, reprinted on the Department of Corrections website, Governor Jerry Brown, stated:
"For too long, the state’s prison system has been a revolving door for lower-level offenders and parole violators who are released within months—often before they are even transferred out of a reception center. Cycling these offenders through state prisons wastes money, aggravates crowded conditions, thwarts rehabilitation, and impedes local law enforcement supervision."
So Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 109 and AB 117, according to the site, which "... helped California to close the revolving door ..." while also becoming "... the cornerstone of California’s solution for reducing the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons to 137.5 percent of design capacity by June 27, 2013."
That date was ordered by a Three-Judge Court and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The California Corrections and Rehabilitation website states also that the realignment program allows "... non-violent, non-serious, and non sex offenders to serve their sentence in county jails instead of state prisons."
So the spike in property crime may be related to the displaced low-level, non-sexual and non-serious offenders from state prison facilities, as jails in San Diego are shortening the sentences of the lower level local offenders.
SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Director Dr. Cynthia Burke is quoted by the OceansideNews as stating:
“Public safety realignment, as enacted under AB 109, does not appear to have resulted in an increased number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement in San Diego or most other California cities. But AB 109 may be one factor in property crimes holding steady or seeing slight increases in this region, while other places in the country are experiencing continuing declines.”