Timothy Bethell is 31 years old and has 39 felony convictions in California.
His criminal career began nine years ago with a felony drug conviction in Fresno County.
Since then, he has been a one-man wrecking crew for theft, burglary, and vandalism — a crime spree greased by the state’s soft-on-crime policies, according to district attorneys in Tulare and Riverside counties.
“This defendant epitomizes the dysfunction caused by the passage of soft-on-crime policies such as AB 109 and propositions 47 and 57,” said Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward in a news release on Friday.
“His wake of destruction crosses county lines and irreparably impacts small businesses everywhere he travels. Windows and doors can be fixed, but lost earnings, wages, and canceled insurance policies cause real harm to real people trying to make a living.”
Another cost is the many thousands of dollars spent by taxpayers while trying — but failing —to keep Bethell behind bars.
Riverside County DA: System Is Revolving Door for Thieves
Riverside County DA Michael Hestrin weighed in on the subject after Bethell received a prison sentence of 64 months following guilty pleas to 17 felonies on Wednesday in Tulare County.
“Unfortunately, the Bethell case is not an exception or an outlier but all too common,” Haestrin said. “The justice system has become a revolving door for thieves and vandals. They can count on being released early from their jail or prison sentences if there is any punishment at all. This untenable situation has left us unable to deter this rampant criminality and lawlessness.”
In the summer of 2022 while in Riverside County, Bethell pleaded guilty to six felonies involving vandalism and thefts at five businesses. Sentenced to three years in local lockup, he was released after three days because of jail overcrowding.
Before that, Bethell regularly broke into and stole from Visalia businesses. But despite numerous convictions, he spent little time in jail. In fact, in September 2021, he was released to a recovery program but never reported to his probation officer. Eight days later, he pleaded no contest to stealing $2,800 in cash and merchandise from a Walgreens in Visalia.