After an epidemic of missing copper wiring, an historical marker, a disappearing cathedral bell, mass grave robberies, and some seafaring pirates, this rash of Bay Area metal thefts has officially gone from baffling, to exciting, to gross and is now just sort of depressing. As the Chronicle reports over the weekend, metal thieves have now started raiding local playgrounds and public sports facilities for anything not bolted to the ground.
According to SF Rec and Park spokesperson Sarah Ballard, the department has an estimated "hundreds of thousands of dollars of metal equipment" throughout the parks system. In a recent incident at Crocker-Amazon Playground, which has a nice fresh set of multi-use playing fields, the aluminum bleachers were stolen to be melted down for scrap. Likewise, thieves tried to make off with the metal frames for the soccer goals. While they didn't get away with the goals, park workers have also noticed copper piping for the irrigation system has gone missing. Piles other stolen metal goods also pop up occasionally outside of the park, where the bandits were presumably coming to pick them up later.
The thefts are disheartening to say the least, especially considering all the public and private funds that go in to renovating and upgrading the parks. As one neighbor and park activist succinctly put it to the Chronicle: "You get something nice done, and the next day it can be gone."
SFPD says they are on alert to keep an eye on parks like Crocker-Amazon, but the Parks service currently only has the funds for two rangers to patrol all 4,000 acres of the city's parks at any given time.