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Crime Doesn’t Pay: OC DA Todd Spitzer Launches Multi-County Crime Prevention and Public Safety Campaign

“Sacramento may be rolling out the red carpet for thieves; but here in Orange County, we’re throwing the book at criminals,” said Spitzer.

"Crime Doesn't Pay in Orange County," reads one billboard on the southbound 710 Freeway near Long Beach’s Del Amo Boulevard in vivid orange and white letters. It’s one of many such advertisements now lining major highways and public transit buses throughout Orange County, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Norwalk, and Glendale. The message couldn’t be clearer: “if you steal, we prosecute.”

These messages are part of a new public safety awareness campaign by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office—no doubt a response to rising crime (31% higher than the national rate) and the state’s failure to crack down on smash-and-grab robberies. The campaign is part of an ongoing effort undertaken by District Attorney Todd Spitzer to ensure that Orange County remains a safe place to live, work, and raise a family in. 

“Sacramento hasn’t made our jobs easy. When the risk is far less than the reward, it’s no surprise that criminals are committing smash and grabs, residential burglaries, and simply walking out the front door of stores with arms full of stolen merchandise while you’re standing in line waiting to pay for your items,” said District Attorney Todd Spitzer in a promotional video. “Sacramento may be rolling out the red carpet for thieves – but here in Orange County we’re throwing the book at criminals who come here to steal.”

The District Attorney's Office estimates that the billboard and bus ads alone will reach 38 to 40 million people over a four-week period. Beyond that, the campaign will also make use of bumper stickers and digital marketing advertising to target active cell phone users in the counties of Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Imperial counties. 

Better still, the campaign’s $250,000 in funding comes from monies seized from criminal operations, as permitted by the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury Asset Forfeiture. “We’re not using one dollar of tax money,” said Spitzer. “We’re using the criminals’ money that we have seized legally against them.” 

The public’s reaction to the messaging has been positive and the campaign has now attracted national attention on TV, radio and in newspapers.

"I think that making that point that there will be accountability is key, again, to hopefully deterring the behavior from happening in the first place," President and CEO of the California Retailers Association Rachel Michelin told ABC 7 News. "But then making sure that people understand if they continue to do this behavior, they are going to be caught and they are going to be prosecuted."

The reception has been less positive with criminals, who took to defacing one of the billboards to read “Crime Does Pay in Orange County.” 

“We’re leaving it up [that way] was a symbol of exactly what we’re fighting against—a widespread sentiment amongst some that crime does pay,” Spitzer told the press.

Spitzer is no stranger to effective public relations campaigns. In 2022, when he faced a challenge from progressive candidate Pete Hardin, Spitzer unveiled the award-winning #NoLAinOC social media campaign aimed at lambasting soft-on-crime District Attorneys—particularly Los Angeles County’s George Gascón. There is no denying the effectiveness of this messaging, as Spitzer defeated Hardin in the primary election by a margin of nearly 3:1—a victory so decisive, there was no contest in the general election. 

“I moved to OC for exactly this reason,” writes Twitter/X user Michael Callahan. “Happy to be here and happy to fight to keep it from becoming LA.”


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