Chief of Police says AB 109 is responsible for surge in thefts in the city

Prison and jail terms are down, so crime  in Taft is up.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem not just here but in communities up and down the state in the six months since the implementation of  Assembly Bill 109, the  state's prison realignment.
Under AB 109, many criminal who would otherwise be sentenced to state prisons are being redirected to county facilities and are serving much shorter terms.
It has resulted in a sharp increase in property crimes in the city, Taft Chief of Police Ed Whiting told the Taft City Council.
During the six month period from Oct. 1 2010 to April 1 2011, Taft Police investigated 175 theft related crimes and made 37 theft-related arrests.
From Oct. 1, 2011 to April 1, 2012, officers investigated  219 thefts and made 69 arrests.?The total number of arrests in the six month period rose from 521 to 645 in one year, Whiting said.
There's a simple reason, Whiting said, and its not that there are any more criminals than before.
“We attribute  a lot of this to the fact that we are arresting the same people over and over again due to 109,” he said.
It's not just in Taft, Whiting said.
“We are not unique in this,”Whiting said. “It's happening up and down the state.'
Jail terms have been drastically reduced for nonviolent, nonsexual offenders, called non-nons, so they are serving a small fraction of the actual time they are sentenced to.
Inmates used to get one day credited to their sentence for every day of “good time,” meaning they didn't get in trouble.
But now  the non-non inmates are serving one-tenth or less of their sentence.
A lot of thieves are targeting autos, and Whiting said people can take a couple of simple steps to protect themselves.
Lock your vehicle at all times, and don't leave valuables like cell phones computers, change and other items in it or you may end up paying for it.
“You will eventually become a target or a victim,”Whiting said.
That goes for recyclables people keep in their yards. Aluminum cans and bottles are being taken by thieves to recycle for themselves.
“If you collect cans or bottles,  don't leave them out in your yard. They will come in  to your yard. They will take your cans and bottles,” Whiting warned.
The high price of metals has led to more and more thefts. Interim City Manager and Public Works Director Craig Jones said the city has had sewer manhole covers stolen as well as  two-inch diameter metal street signposts taken.
“That's how desperate these people are,” Whiting said.
The situation is not going to get better anytime soon, and Whiting said its a strain on law enforcement.
“We're not really sure how much of this we can take of this,” Whiting said.