Three things about this Chron story regarding car break-ins and enhanced sentencing for repeat offenders. One is that old chestnut about causation and correlation.
After Texas lawmakers downgraded car burglary to a misdemeanor more than a decade ago, vehicle break-ins exploded in the biggest cities.
In Houston in 1995, the year after penalties were reduced, vehicle burglaries jumped more than 20 percent, to roughly 23,000, police say. Last year, the city recorded 32,362 car break-ins.
Looking to reverse the trend, which contributes heavily to big-city crime rates, the Legislature passed a bill this session to restore burglary of a vehicle -- breaking into a vehicle and stealing something from it -- to a felony for repeat offenders.
Which is all the more odd when you realize that contradictory evidence come later on:
Police say vehicle burglars not only target valuables but papers and cards useful in identity theft. As people spend more time in their cars, police say, they have become increasingly lax about leaving behind wallets, purses and briefcases targeted by identity thieves.
Houston police Capt. James Jones, who handles legislative matters for the department, said increased penalties for the crime stalled in the Legislature two years ago, and supporters this session were forced to abandon their push to make a first or second offense a felony.
He said increased penalties will give police more incentive to target repeat offenders. But car burglaries will remain a difficult crime to solve.
The legislation includes money to educate motorists about a crime estimated to cost Texans more than $200 million a year.