Reports of car break-ins at city-owned lots are down 72 percent in the last two years, but that could mean that people have just given up and don’t report them anymore.
One big reason car break-ins are so frustratingly frequent here in San Francisco could be that no one really ever gets arrested for them. Today’s Chronicle busts out the little factoid that less than 2% of car break-ins actually result in an arrest. But do temper your aggravation with the busted window situation, as KRON 4 reports that car break-ins are down 72 percent in city-owned lots over the last two years, and the SFMTA attributes this to better lighting, more cameras, and automated tellers that allow human staff to pay more attention to the well-being of the vehicles.
"In removing fixed post in lane cashiering, that has allowed us to use that same staff to roam around the garage and provide multiple customer service," SFMTA spokesperson Rob Malone told KRON 4.
The Chronicle has a S.F. Car Break-In Tracker map that’s updated daily, and does show a citywide decline from last year, though not nearly as pronounced as SFMTA’s data that only includes city garages. January 2019 saw 28% fewer reported break-ins than January 2018 (from 2,473 to 1,776), but February data is pretty much the same as the previous year (1,736 in 2018, 1,635 in 2019). The Chronicle still estimates around 55 vehicles are broken into every day in San Francisco, though this is a decline from when we reached peak car break-in levels in 2017.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s office would tell you these modest improvements are thanks to their auto burglary unit, which they established in 2015, and is led by the “Queen of Car Burglaries” Shirin Oloumi. The Chronicle interviewed this “Queen of Car Burglaries”, and Oloumi notes that the break-ins are usually conducted by organized groups — not individuals — with a lookout person standing watch. They’re most interested in iPads and Macbooks, so do make a point of not leaving fancy Apple products visible in a car.
Japantown and Civic Center have the most reported break-ins since the beginning of 2018, but other high-risk areas include touristy places like The Embarcadero and Lombard Street.
Related: Will A Set Of $300 Signs Stop SF's Car Break-In Epidemic? [SFist]