Is your car missing? You may have been the victim of a mob hit. Through the end of August, auto thefts were up 18 percent in San Francisco from the previous year, the San Francisco Examiner reports today, and police think that "organized criminal efforts" — the mob! The Yakuza! Russian computer hackers! — are behind it.

Of the more than 400,000 cars registered in San Francisco, 4,344 were stolen between January 1 of this year and the end of August. Northern Police Station Capt. Greg McEachern did not name names, but did tell fellow police that this effort is "organized," the Examiner reported.

In response, plainclothes police are now staking out parking garages "seven days a week," on the lookout for the bad guys. Those shady-looking guys hovering by your car at Fifth and Mission could be police. This has already netted results: One such car-stealing crew that's already been busted includes an outfit called the "Zoo Block," a Bayview-based collection of ne'er do-wells who are among the 397 arrests for auto theft made this year.

Meanwhile, some cars are safer than others. Car thefts are up all over town, with the Excelsior and Outer Mission neighborhoods — a car-friendly place right next to Interstate-280 —the hardest-hit.

Of course, having your car stolen is only the beginning of the car-free odyssey in San Francisco: once police find it, they give you a phone call in which you are given 20 minutes to come and get it. If your Uber is late or if you are simply too far away, you can then look forward to paying $600 or so for the joy of recovering what's yours from AutoReturn, the company that tows cars in the city.

San Francisco makes money off of the arrangement with its tow company, to the tune of $30 million a year -- a fine racket, indeed. Sup. Scott Wiener is trying to end this car cartel, so if he disappears mysteriously, we know who to suspect.

[SF Examiner]