SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Citing a recent rise in car break-ins across the Bay Area, a lawmaker from San Jose is calling for increased penalties for certain property crimes.

Assemblymember Kansen Chu, a Democrat representing San Jose, announced he is planning to introduce legislation that would stiffen penalties on auto burglaries and property theft. Chu’s proposal would make the crimes a felony if electronic devices with personal information were stolen.

“Smash-and-grabs and stealing valuables are not just petty crimes,” Chu said in a statement, saying break-ins cause “real economic hardship and stress for many families.”

“The Bay Area is seeing rampant disregard for people’s property and there are criminal organizations committing these crimes methodically and frequently. Increasing penalties and making these crimes a felonious offense will deter potential criminals and keep our communities safe,” Chu went on to say.

Chu noted the case of Shou Zeng, a 34-year-old man who died while chasing the suspects who stole his laptop from a Starbucks in Oakland. Three suspects have been arrested in connection with Zeng’s death.

Friday’s announcement comes after a rash of car break-ins were reported across the Bay Area since the start of the year. Last month, five teens were arrested in connection with nearly a dozen auto burglaries in Palo Alto, and two people were arrested in a rash of burglaries in nearby Sunnyvale. Meanwhile in the East Bay, two teens were arrested on suspicion of 30 auto break-ins in Fremont.

It was not immediately clear when the proposal would be considered by the legislature.

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