Embattled Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, facing surging crime in his jurisdiction, released a video this week with tips on how residents can try to discourage thieves from stealing their cars.
It comes as he faces a second recall effort in just over a year in office and is struggling to fend off accusations he’s soft on criminals and mistreating their victims.
“In Los Angeles County, we’re seeing a noticeable increase in auto theft,” Gascon says in the video. “My office is working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable the people involved in this property crime.”
He goes on to list some advice for car owners that he says can help thwart would-be thieves.
The first is to make sure to always lock your doors – something law enforcement agencies around the countries have said for years in an effort to stop people from burglarizing cars for change, phone chargers and sunglasses.
“Two, do not leave a spare key in your vehicle,” Gascon continues. “Three, park in a well-lit area. And four, get an anti-theft device for your vehicle.”
The Drive, an auto magazine, recommended a simple “brake lock” device as its “best value” for anti-theft protection earlier this year. The Club CL606 starts at $35 on Amazon. Drivers can also buy their own wheel look boot clamps on the site for around $90.
“Working together, we can keep our community safe,” Gascon concludes in the video.
Alex Bastian, a special adviser to DA Gascon, said prosecutors were seeking higher bail amounts for suspected recurring car thieves driving the crime wave – and also working to bring charges more quickly so that potential repeat offenders would have less time between court appearances.
“We are working with our law enforcement partners and the chiefs of all the various agencies in L.A. County to help in providing them ways to have upward deviations in bail for repeat offenders,” he said. “And that includes auto theft.”
In mid-December, Gascon launched a diversion program for juveniles accused certain felonies, including burglary, robbery, sex assault and vehicle theft crimes.
Bastian said that he did not immediately have a breakdown of how many participants in the diversion program had been accused of car thefts, but the program itself only processed about 20 people a month for the last three months in a county with more than 10 million residents.
Gascon came into office in late 2020 and immediately issued a series of hardline progressive directives, declaring enhancements he would not charge and other unilateral criminal justice reforms. He backtracked last month under intense pressure from the public following a series of high-profile crimes, including a sex assault of a child that sent a 26-year-old repeat offender to a juvenile facility.
Members of law enforcement, Gascon’s own DAs and others have blasted his inflexible directives as a boon to criminals. Child molestation suspect Hannah Tubbs began identifying as female only after an arrest for the assault of a 10-year-old girl in 2014, according to prosecutors. Tubbs pleaded guilty in juvenile court after Gascon’s office declined to transfer the case to an adult court, and could spend less than 24 months in a juvenile facility – alongside girls.
Gascon also noted that while exceptions to his earlier policies may now be requested, they will have to go up a chain of command – through new bureaucratic processes involving officials loyal to him.
The same group his own deputies accuse of covering up the egregiousness of the Tubbs case until after the plea deal had been secured.
Gascon is also an author of the controversial California Proposition 47 – which downgraded many crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. And he is a supporter of Proposition 57, which blocked prosecutors from charging some juveniles as adults and shortened prison sentences.