Crime in Newbury Park increases

In the quiet streets of Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks, it’s hard to see the gradually increasing crime rate. However, after the California referendum Proposition 47 passed in 2014, crimes previously labeled as felonies are being treated as misdemeanors, allowing for the early release of previous felons.

Proposition 47 has loosened the laws punishing certain crimes and has allowed for many prisoners to be released early according to senior deputy district attorney for Ventura County Richard Simon. Ballotpedia states that Proposition 47 classifies “non-serious, nonviolent crimes as misdemeanors” rather than felonies. “Crime is still pretty low and Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks are pretty safe communities,”Simon, said. “However, we’ve also seen crime increase significantly all throughout the county and California.”

Proposition 47 has loosened the laws punishing certain crimes and has allowed for many prisoners to be released early. Throughout Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks, store thefts and car hopping have increased dramatically and as reported by Simon, people need to make sure that they lock their cars and take out their valuables at night, primarily because “there are people who go from house to house checking car doors and taking wallets, credit cards, and driver’s licenses that they find to rip the person off and steal their identity.”

Public defender Ayala Benefraim takes a different view on the result of Proposition 47 and the crime occurring inside of Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks.

“After Proposition 47 passed we’ve seen a lot more cases being tried by the prosecutors as felonies rather than misdemeanors in reaction to the referendum’s passing,” Benefraim said. Having grown up in Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park, she has not noticed any significant change in the amount of crime in the area while the types of crimes occurring has shifted.

Despite this, she said, “The one area that has surprised me is the increase in drug abuse by teenagers that has occurred in the past few years.”

She attributes this change to a shift from hard drugs to more easily accessible ones, especially prescription drugs that may be easily accessible for some teens. While properly storing the medicine may help, there may also be “a lack of education,” said Ms. Benefraim.

David Diestel, father of Newbury Park senior Chloe Diestel, works as a police officer and specially assists several schools with student issues. According to Chloe, “Many of the calls that officers get are simply about high school kids doing dumb things that they shouldn’t be doing in the first place such as lighting fireworks in the middle of the night.” While most of the issues involving high schoolers aren’t serious offenses such as murder or drug use she concluded that, “most of the investigations that my [her] dad does at schools focus on online activity such as harassment or  students posting inappropriate pictures with guns or alcohol.”