A Czech news crew who came to San Francisco to cover the APEC summit and drove around Sunday shooting B-roll of charming scenes like the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square was robbed of their camera equipment in North Beach.
News crews have been a fairly frequent target of thieves around the Bay in recent years — apparently because they have a fence who will buy such high-end camera equipment. And a CNN reporter just had her car broken into in SF in August.
On Sunday, a Czech TV journalist and his crew were robbed at gunpoint in North Beach, in the first incident we're hearing about of a crime committed against an international visitor here for the APEC summit.
Czech newsman Bohumil Vostal was shooting outside City Lights Bookstore in North Beach when he and his crew were approached by three masked suspects with guns. As Vostal tells the Chronicle, "They were heading at my camera man, aiming a gun at his stomach, and one at my head."
Sadly, Vostal says he was trying to shoot a segment that would portray San Francisco in a positive light, adding, "I’m one of those many people who used to read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and I was so much looking forward to visit your city."
All the footage that Vostal and his crew shot on Sunday, including several interviews, was lost to the thieves, he said. And in order to salvage the day, he said a crew member rant to Best Buy to purchase cables and other lost items.
The suspects reportedly fled in a dark-colored sedan. The stolen goods were worth $18,000, Vostal says.
Naturally, City Hall is embarrassed, and Mayor London Breed personally met with Vostal Monday morning and pledged to help replace any lost equipment. Also, the SFPD's Robbery Unit is investigating and the DA's office will be eager to throw the book at the suspects if they ever catch them.
A spokesperson for Breed, Jeff Cretan, has a message for thieves, via the Chronicle, "The police will arrest you, and the [district attorney] will charge you."
The police presence was heavy all around downtown and SoMa on Sunday, but apparently not in North Beach at the time of the robbery — which occurred around 5 p.m.
Long after a protest march dissipated near the Moscone Center at sundown, SFPD officers on motorcycles, bicycles, and on foot were all over the area and up Market Street.
We'll update you if Vostal and his crew get their equipment back, or if any arrests are made.