If you want a sense of the sheer volume of petty crime going on in San Francisco, you need only look at Twitter or Reddit, basically, because there's so much that some of it is getting caught on video in broad daylight.
Two weeks ago we had this crazy smash-and-grab involving moving vehicles at the entrance of a SoMa on-ramp — with video of the incident caught on a Tesla's front camera with the perpetrators' getaway vehicle's license plate clearly visible. (We have not yet heard from the SFPD if they made an arrest in that incident.)
And now we have the video below of a similar smash-and-grab in Golden Gate Park that took place Wednesday, which an onlooker shot as he was driving by. In this incident, the thief is caught by the car owner/renter as he tries to make off with a backpack and a rolling suitcase. The victim chases the suspect to his waiting getaway car, meanwhile the suspect drops the suitcase, and then the victim wrestles the backpack from him as well before the getaway car drives off.
Just witnessed this smash and grab in Golden Gate Park. Giving video to police, suspects are late 20s and early 30s driving a Chevy Impala with CA plates 5ZZN552 @LondonBreed @SFPD 2nd time I witnessed this type of activity. @kron4news @Hoodline @KTVU @KPIXtv pic.twitter.com/b82mcSGZHl— Forrest Lanning (@rabidmarmot) February 24, 2021
Also, in this case, the getaway car's license plate is clearly visible: 5ZZN552.
SF resident Forrest Lanning shot the video and posted it to Twitter, tagging Mayor London Breed and the SFPD. It's not yet clear whether the SFPD is investigating the case.
The victims in this attempted car break-in appear to be tourists, and they clearly didn't get the memo about leaving visible bags in cars anywhere in this town.
Two weeks ago, District Attorney Chesa Boudin attended a virtual neighborhood safety forum for Bernal Heights residents are concerned about a recent uptick in burglaries there. He suggested that criminals in economically desperate situations are turning to home and garage break-ins due to the fact that fewer tourists are around leaving fewer break-in targets among street-parked cars.
"The devastation of the pandemic is hard to overstate, especially for people who were already struggling to begin with, who were already living paycheck to paycheck, or struggling to find a place to sleep every night,” Boudin said. “If you used to live from couch to couch at friend’s houses, they don’t want you on their couch in the context of a contagious virus pandemic. So, that’s definitely part of the picture."
But, he said, this doesn't make it right, and he understands why the uptick in burglaries across the city is unsettling for people.
"It’s one thing to have someone break a car window and steal a backpack. That’s a crime. We prosecute it as a felony,” Boudin said. “It’s another thing to have someone break into your garage or your home — that’s your castle."
In late January, well known Silicon Valley investor Cyan Bannister had her SF home broken into and burglarized while her nine-year-old son was inside, and the incident was all caught on her backyard camera. Oddly, as ABC 7 reported, the prowler returned to her home the next day to ring the bell and apologize, saying he was on parole, though when he promised to get her stolen things back and then never returned, she wanted to press charges — and she calls on Boudin to be tougher on repeat offenders like the one who went on to kill two pedestrians in SoMa while allegedly driving a stolen car while intoxicated.
"I'm curious to see how the DA will handle this situation if my suspect is apprehended," Bannister said, saying she planned to bring a federal case if he is not properly charged because her passport was also stolen. "We all have to start standing up and saying something because otherwise more people are going to die."
As we reported in December, burglaries were up 42% last year over 2019, and car thefts were up 34%. Meanwhile there was a 42% drop in the number of car break-ins reported.