For those individuals committing the thefts, the beefed up security would mean an increased chance in getting caught. A California theft related conviction can be particularly harmful to those defendants in seeking employment or state licensing in this already tough economy. Theft convictions are still harmful even after being expunged because they will arise after background checks when applying to state or federal agencies, or when applying to the state for any kind of license or certification.
Most California theft offenses are considered “crimes of moral turpitude;” and are often cited by state license boards as a reason to deny licenses and certifications. Even more harmful are the effects of a theft conviction for immigration purposes, where an individual is seeking a visa, green card or naturalization to the United States. A crime of moral turpitude could subject a defendant in this country illegally to deportation, and denial of naturalization or revocation of a visa or residency status.
The good news is that a first time petty theft where the item taken has a value less than $50, can sometimes be reduced to an infraction. In some D.A. offices, this deal will only apply if the item taken was a food item and there are other extenuating circumstances. This deal is probably reserved for transients and run-away teenagers living on the streets. The prosecution, in first offense cases, where the defendant has no criminal record, will sometimes consider dismissing the charges if the defendant repays the victim, undergoes theft counseling and performs community service.
A petty theft is normally a misdemeanor; however when there is a prior history of petty thefts then the prosecution can charge a new petty theft as a felony. Petty theft applies to taking property valued up to $950. Taking an item with a value over $950 can be charged as felony grand theft. From the article highlighting the new security measure in downtown San Pedro, it is clear that most crimes are probably petty thefts, characterized as “snatch-and-run” thefts.
It is great to see that San Pedro is trying to build a better downtown community and image. It has a lot to offer to its residents and visitors. Hopefully, these new measures will reduce any and all crimes in downtown San Pedro.
You can read the article about the new San Pedro security measures here.