In an effort to lessen the adverse impact of repeat theft offenders negatively impacting businesses within the City of Eureka, the Eureka Police Department, with the support of Sheriff Mike Downey and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, has implemented new procedures that became effective this week. Our intent is to increase public safety and reduce crime while presenting some respite to Eureka’s merchants who are continually being victimized by increasingly bold and belligerent repeat theft offenders. The goal is to keep these criminals in-custody until arraignment when possible and to dissuade like-minded lawbreakers from continuing to commit these crimes in Eureka.
When responding to a theft-related call for service, such as a shoplifter-in-custody, the investigating officer will determine whether or not the suspect has prior arrests and/or convictions for any theft-related crime. When reasonable grounds exists to arrest an adult suspect with priors for a theft crime, the officers will make a custodial arrest provided certain conditions are met:
-The suspect has had a previous conviction for a theft crime within the past five years, or
-The suspect has been arrested for a theft crime within the past two years, or
-In the officer’s assessment, other articulable reasons exist to believe the person arrested would be reasonably likely to continue or resume the offense(s), or the safety of persons or property would be imminently endangered by the suspect’s release (Penal Code Section 853.6(i).
-The victim desires prosecution and is willing to make a private person’s arrest if applicable.
-The arrest is lawful and supported by probable cause.
Upon making a physical arrest for a theft crime under the abovementioned circumstances, the arresting officer will complete a “Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Request for Non-Release” form to hold the suspect in jail until arraignment. In the event the suspect is able to post bail, or the Humboldt County Correctional Facility’s inmate population is running overcapacity at the time of booking (>90% of the rated capacity), it is possible the suspect may still be released early on his/her own recognizance. A Request for Non-Release form will nonetheless be completed when applicable. The decision to release a suspect early on “O.R.” ultimately rests at the discretion of the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Mike Downey has conveyed his support in partnering with EPD to help keep these habitual theft offenders in jail when possible.
Certain exceptions to these procedures may be made on a case-by-case basis when public safety and/or the needs of the department require due to insufficient staffing levels or the existence of an in-progress emergency call requiring all available officers. If a business wishes prosecution, these new conditions will be added to the list of criteria that disqualifies someone from participating in the Shoplifter-In-Custody Program. If a business or citizen-victim wishes to handle the shoplifter civilly instead and not seek criminal prosecution, they may still choose to do so. Additionally, under certain circumstances some offenders may be prohibited from returning to a business they have victimized pursuant to Section 602(t)(1) of the California Penal Code (such as those previously convicted of a crime committed on that particular property).