There were 52,000 fewer arrests in California last year.
At the same time violent crime jumped 10 percent, shoplifting surged 12 percent and theft 11 percent.
The "experts" - read that people who crafted Proposition 47 - are declaring the measure a success.
Voters in 2014 embraced it on the promise it would reduce crime by the decriminalization of drug use and therefore not give casual users a criminal record laden with felony convictions. The measure accomplished that by reducing penalties for the possession of certain drugs as well as for various property crimes.
Of course it was a success. It is the same as improving air quality by lowering the threshold for pollutant emissions.
The experts say it is too soon to tell whether the run-up in crime in California is a direct result of less arrests being made. That's because the experts want decriminalization of drugs to work so bad they will ignore the obvious.
1). Crime in California dropped during the Great Recession when many were under financial stress, yet it happens to start back up again in the first full year of Proposition 47's implementation.
2). The jobless rate among known drug users isn't exactly the thing sitting incumbents would brag about.
3). It costs money to obtain drugs given the government has yet to institute a free drug program to complement its free phone program.
4). Drug sellers don't care where you get the money from.
5). Now - thanks to Proposition 47 - you can shoplift items with an aggregate value of $950 or less on one trip to a store - and only get a citation if police catch you. The only exceptions are outstanding warrants or if you are stupid enough to flee when chased and/or resist arrest.
The last point is important.
Ever wonder why local police departments are reporting more and more people being sought for walking into places like Rite Aid and Ultra Beauty and walking out without paying for hundreds of dollars of cosmetics and personal care products?
Now spend awhile browsing yard sales and flea markets. There are those who are selling legitimately cleared new products from store shelves that retailers sell for a dime on the dollar to get rid of for various reasons. But with the advent of places like "dollar stores" there is less and less picked up by freelancers who pay a song.
It is easy to "fence" stolen personal hygiene products at flea markets. Those who steal such items don't have to sell them directly to the public. Instead they just have to find a dishonest vendor willing to pay them a few greenbacks.
The buyer then sells them to customers. The perfect crime. No serial numbers to trace. Nothing out of the ordinary to make the end buyer suspicious. And - for the druggie that started the illegal transactions - no serious consequences to face if caught save a citation issued by an arresting officer.
And no victim either, right? It was just a store. If it was a mom and pop operation, what's the big deal? They just work 16 hour days trying to house and feed their kids. If the store is part of a corporate chain who really cares? So what? They make plenty of money. Forget the fact shoplifting losses are factored into the price that everyone else pays for shampoo and such. They can afford it. They have jobs.
Shoplifting isn't a crime that is committed by kids doing stupid things like stealing a candy bar. Businesses lose an estimated $10 billion annually from shoplifting. Rarely are the items shoplifted for personal consumption.
It's highly unlikely the guy caught on video stealing an air compressor earlier this month from a local Home Depot woke up that morning, decided to do some work around the house that required an air compressor and then went out and pilfered one.
It was stolen to sell. And if you think he's going to use the cash to feed his starving kids, I can get you a good deal on the Golden Gate Bridge and throw in Alcatraz Island as a bonus.
The same is true of someone stealing $950 in personal hygiene products and/or cosmetics.
Now thanks to voters who were partly gullible and partly wishing against hope that decriminalizing drugs would reduce crime, California has made it easier to be a drug addict and secure the funds in which to support the lifestyle.
Caught with fairy serious drugs on you? No problem, you might spend a year in county jail at worst. Caught stealing to support your habit? Just give the nice officer the stuff you stole that you made sure was less than $950 and take the citation. No worries about jail or prison.
As for theft, how many weed eaters are we going to have swiped from yards, garden gnomes taken from front yards, parcels taken off front porches, or gym bags lifted from your car before we stop kidding ourselves?
The items being taken aren't being used by the person stealing them. They're being sold at yard sales and flea markets.
There are plenty of legitimate market vendors and yard sales. That's why it is a perfect cover.
If Proposition 47 gets any more successful, we won't be able to afford it.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.