Man Sentenced to Maximum Term for Auto Burglary
News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2017
CONTACT: ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931
MAXWELL SZABO (415) 553-9089
MAN SENTENCED TO MAXIMUM TERM FOR AUTO BURGLARY
San Francisco – Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that Kristen “Jason” Bell, age 32, of San Francisco, was sentenced yesterday to the maximum term of three years for auto burglary. A jury found Bell guilty on December 19, 2016, of one count of auto burglary and one count of receiving stolen property, both felonies, as well as two misdemeanors for resisting arrest and possession of burglary tools.
“A small number of auto burglars are responsible for the majority of these crimes,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Our focus on serial offenders coupled with SFPD’s enhanced enforcement is continuing to yield measurable results, but there’s more work to be done. I strongly urge motorists to remain diligent and avoid leaving any valuables visible in their vehicles. In addition to enhanced enforcement techniques, the community can play a role in ending this epidemic.”
According to court records, on September 26, 2016, Bell broke into a car at Washington and Drumm Street and stole backpacks containing approximately $3,000 in laptops, electronics, and gift cards. Upon being confronted by the police, Bell attempted to flee but was subsequently arrested when he tripped over his own feet. Bell was charged earlier in 2016 in a different case for nine counts of auto burglary, four counts of possession of stolen property, and five counts of possession of burglary tools. At the time, a judge released Bell over the people’s objection. As such, the September 26, 2016 arrest occurred while the defendant was out of custody. A separate case for those initial charges is still being pursued by SFDA, with the Defendant expected to be back in court on March 1st in Department 20.
SFDA has a specialized strategy for dealing with auto burglary and auto theft cases which recognizes that the vast majority of these crimes are committed by repeat offenders. We vertically prosecute such cases, thereby ensuring there is one prosecutor who takes a case from rebooking all the way through sentencing. This means repeat offenders receive the utmost attention and resources. SFDA has also taken steps to improve collaboration, communication, and training with SFPD in order to increase the charge rate for cases presented to our office. For example, SFDA has worked to ensure SFPD officers are familiar with the prosecution’s burden in proving auto burglary in a court of law, which generally requires evidence that the car was locked, evidence of forced entry, evidence of the intent to steal, and identification of the person who committed the crime. The result of these collaborative efforts has been an increase in our action rate for auto burglaries, which remains at 80%.
In working with our law enforcement partners to obtain these forms of evidence, we have worked with SFPD to ensure any available video evidence is obtained immediately or as soon as possible, that officers check burglarized cars to confirm all doors were locked, and to take pictures to document the scene and the suspect. This information is particularly important if the victim is from out of town, as the prosecution must prove that an auto burglary defendant did not have the right to be in the vehicle. Many visit San Francisco from destinations outside subpoena power, which means establishing the fact that a defendant did not have the legal right to be in the vehicle can be difficult if these steps are not carefully adhered to, and if we have a victim who is unable to return to court to testify.
SFDA and SFPD have also collaborated on a Hot Spot approach, focusing on those areas of the city experiencing the highest concentrations of auto burglary; as well as a focus on serial auto burglars. By focusing on those individuals who disproportionately commit auto burglary, we both reduce the impact of those individuals, and build stronger cases for juries and judges.
“SFPD’s commitment to these cases is bearing fruit,” said SFDA’s vertically assigned auto burglary and auto theft ADA Shirin Oloumi. “San Franciscans deserve relief from these crimes, and they should know that help is on the way.”
The Honorable Judge Benson presided. Special thanks go to SFPD officers Edmund Huang and Derek Christensen for going above and beyond the call of duty during trial, as well as to Leland Chan and Morris Moore of SFDA IT Support. Assistant District Attorney Shirin Oloumi prosecuted the case.