‘We’re throwing the book at criminals’: O.C. aims anti-crime campaign at surrounding areas

The Orange County district attorney's office has launched a multi-county anti-crime advertising campaign.
(Orange County district attorney’s office)

Using bumper stickers, billboards and advertisements on public buses, Orange County prosecutors have launched an anti-crime campaign aimed at deterring people from committing theft there.

In particular, that would be people from Los Angeles and other Southern California counties, whom Orange County officials blame for much of the theft on their turf.

The campaign, which has been underway for more than week, consists of ads on buses in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Norwalk and Glendale, along with digital marketing targeted at cellphones of people in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Imperial counties. Billboards along freeways and near popular shopping areas feature the message “Crime doesn’t pay in Orange County” in large capital letters. Underneath, they offer those toying with the idea a warning: “If you steal, we prosecute.”


Twenty people were charged this week in connection with an string of Orange County crimes including more than 30 burglaries and the loss of $500,000 worth of cash and goods.

Dec. 15, 2023

“Over the last several years, Orange County has experienced a significant number of defendants coming from Los Angeles, Riverside, and other surrounding counties with the sole purpose of committing residential burglaries and robberies, smash and grabs, and commercial burglaries,” the district attorney’s office wrote in a news release.

In May 2023, the district attorney’s office announced that it had charged roughly 140 defendants over the course of a year in connection with home invasion robberies and burglaries, commercial burglaries and smash and grab robberies. The majority of those individuals lived outside Orange County, according to a news release published at the time.

In a video announcing the campaign, Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer took aim at criminal justice reforms, saying legislation passed in Sacramento has made “the risk ... far less than the reward” for those looking to commit crimes. Supporters of reforms have said the state should continue to put money into programs that advance public safety without perpetuating mass incarceration.

“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,” he said.

Spitzer has long branded himself as a law-and-order district attorney and has been vocal about the issue of retail and residential theft. During his 2022 campaign for the county’s top law enforcement job, he focused on his record of punishing criminals to prevent Orange County from becoming like Los Angeles, using the slogan #NoLAinOC.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer’s reelection campaign features a hashtag he coined: #NoLAinOC.

Jan. 16, 2022

Spitzer recently partnered with state Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera) on SB 923, legislation that aims to increase time spent behind bars for those repeatedly charged with petty theft. The bill, if passed, would reinstate some provisions that were eliminated by voter approval in 2014 of Prop. 47, which turned some nonviolent property crimes into misdemeanors punishable by jail terms of a year or less.


The billboard and bus ads are estimated to cost $150,000 and reach more than 38 million people over their four-week run. The digital marketing campaign is expected to cost up to $75,000. The campaign is being funded using federal asset forfeiture money, according to the district attorney’s office.