San Francisco residents in multiple neighborhoods report signs and stories of multiple burglaries, as thieves may be trying to take advantage of a large percentage of residents who have temporarily fled the city.
Burglaries are up nearly 80 percent since the pandemic began in the Mission District and 81 percent in the Northern district (North Beach, Marina, Cow Hollow, Pac Heights), according to the San Francisco Police Department, and burglaries are up 53 percent overall, citywide. As KPIX reports, police say they're getting an increasing number of reports of burglaries being committed through garage doors — and North Beach resident Ginny Fang tells the station, "You take a walk down the neighborhood and you see so many holes just punched into garages."
Some thieves have been seen on surveillance video, but many are accessing homes and stealing bicycles out of garages, and more. And one of Fang's neighbors shared a homemade map they've created documenting 50 recent burglaries in what appears to be about a 10-block radius.
Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who represents part of the Northern District, tells the Chronicle that thieves have simply shifted targets with fewer tourists and fewer people in town overall. "People are bragging about car break-ins going down; well that’s because there are fewer tourist cars to break into,” Stefani says. “So the thieves are breaking into houses. Both are crimes of opportunity, and they see houses as the opportunity now."
Two weeks ago, the SFPD said that three suspects had been arrested in connection with three separate North Beach burglaries, and they appeared to be working as a team. All three men are San Francisco residents, and at least one was wanted on several unrelated burglary warrants, as KPIX reported.
Crime has generally trended downward since the pandemic began, with decreases in most violent crimes in San Francisco. Homicides were up 21 percent in the city as of June, as the Chronicle previously reported, but rapes, assaults, and larceny crimes were all down by double-digit percentages. For the period between March and June, burglaries were up 53.6 percent citywide, and the trend continues if you look at the period from March to September as well.
There's also been an ongoing uptick in auto thefts in SF — a trend that has been echoed in other major cities around the U.S. as more people leave cars on the street for days and weeks on end. As of June, auto thefts were up 28 percent in SF compared to the same March-June period last year. Similar dramatic jumps in motor vehicle thefts have been reported in Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Austin.
Fang notes that the whole North Beach neighborhood is on edge now with the burglaries, and not enjoying feeling unsafe while they're still mostly stuck at home. "It’s so hard, the destabilizing feeling," she tells KPIX, "and there’s already so much happening in the world and even the basic sanctity of your home."
SFPD spokesperson Robert Rueca says that the department is "doing all we can to step up patrols and to ultimately arrest those who are committing these crimes."
Photo: Tobias Tullius