Serial Auto Burglar Convicted on Seven Felony Counts

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News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 25, 2016

@GeorgeGascon

CONTACT:       ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931

MAX SZABO (415) 553-9089

SERIAL AUTO BURGLAR CONVICTED ON SEVEN FELONY COUNTS

SAN FRANCISCO - Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that a jury found Eric Jones, 23, of San Francisco, guilty of seven felonies and four misdemeanors.  Jones was convicted on five counts of auto burglary, one count of grand theft, and one count of resisting an executive officer, all felonies.  He was additionally found guilty of two counts of driving as an unlicensed driver, and two counts of possession of burglary tools. 

“Since mid-2015 San Franciscans have experienced a surge in auto burglaries,” said District Attorney George Gascón.  “Our focus on serial offenders coupled with SFPD’s increased enforcement efforts 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 our enhanced enforcement techniques, the community can play a role in ending this epidemic.”

According to court records, Jones broke into vehicles in the Mission, Bayview, Richmond, Twin Peaks and Marina neighborhoods.  In one instance, a couple from New Zealand was eating at a Marina neighborhood restaurant on the day they were supposed to return home when Jones broke into their car and stole their passports, laptops, iPad, and $3,800 in camera equipment. 

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.”   

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