Thieves with sophisticated equipment, some of it apparently custom made, have been targeting garages in Pacific Heights nearly nightly — and owners who have been repeatedly burgled seem amused by some of the clever tools left behind, if annoyed that they have to install new alarms and fences.

It's a repetitive narrative at this point that goes back well into last year, as the pandemic was raging and all tourism had left San Francisco. Criminals don't have as many tourist rental cars to break into — although that is changing again — so they've sought some other easy targets in rich SF, residential garages.

As reported just a couple weeks back, a theft ring has been targeting high-end bicycles specifically, which are getting flipped on the black market for tidy profits. And the Chronicle addressed the issue of two skilled repeat offenders who have been in and out of jail, and who keep returning to the Castro to rob more garages. This was a case where judges were repeatedly letting the suspects out of jail, maybe with ankle monitors, but they kept reoffending — even while the DA's office tried to keep them in jail.


Perhaps a different though equally skilled ring of thieves is targeting Pacific Heights now, and KPIX reports on what one victim describes as the nightly noise of drills that the suspects use to find ways into garages.

"They drill a hole, in the middle of the night, when everybody is sleeping and the street is quiet," says Pacific Heights resident Paul Banas. "They come with a big drill and sometimes I actually heard it in the middle of the night."

Through the hole the thieves often stick an elongated tool with multiple hooks on it, which they use to try to snare an emergency-release cord that will allow them to lift an electric door open. Another neighbor, Preston Raisin shows off one of the tools left behind below.

"Like a lot of residents, we’re worried about what happens next," Banas says.

But does the SFPD care? If this is really happening every night, and you can hear it, is anyone responding and trying to catch anyone?

A few months back, Mayor London Breed suggested that the SFPD knew that the same "10 groups of thieves" were responsible for 1,000 burglaries and car break-ins each month. So why are they so hard to find and prosecute?

The statements from Breed came at a press conference detailing the city's latest "CompStat" statistics, amid heightened media coverage of retail thefts across the city.

Photo: NeONbrand