Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus announces the recovery of about $2 million in stolen property, including these cell phones, as part of “Operation Focus Lens.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Cellphones, luxury purses among $2 million worth of stolen goods recovered in SF

The operation, called “Operation Focus Lens,” involved several law enforcement agencies

Law enforcement officials in San Francisco recovered $2 million worth of suspected stolen property in a recent crackdown on fencing rings, Interim San Francisco District Attorney Suzy Loftus announced Thursday.

The operation, called “Operation Focus Lens,” involved several law enforcement agencies and resulted in 30 warrants served in San Francisco this week. It is designed to reduce theft by eliminating the black markets where stolen goods are bought and sold, ultimately removing one of the incentives for breaking into autos and homes and stealing from stores.

“What creates an incentive to break into cars and to break into homes is if you can quickly turn whatever you stole into money, and a fencing operation makes that possible,” Loftus said. “It really fuels the property crime that we’re seeing in San Francisco.”

Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus discusses the recovery of $2 million in stolen property as part of “Operation Focus Lens.”(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Electronics like smartphones, tablets, laptops and digital cameras made up the bulk of the recovered items on display at the District Attorney’s Office Thursday but designer handbags, assorted clothing, toiletries and laundry detergent were also among the stolen goods.

San Francisco has the highest rate of property crime per capita in the U.S. Auto burglaries spiked in 2017 when police recorded more than 31,000 cases. Though that number has continued to decrease over the last two years, San Francisco is still seeing an average of 70 car break-ins per day, Loftus said.

Operation Focus Lens involves the DA’s Office, San Francisco Police and Sheriff’s departments, California Highway Patrol, BART Police Department, the state Department of Justice and others. Retail partners included Macy’s, Target, CVS Pharmacy and Victoria’s Secret.

According to SFPD Chief Bill Scott, the effects of property crimes in the City present a problem for more than just San Franciscans.

“This is a worldwide problem,” Scott said. “We have people coming from all over the world here and it really sickens me when people come here to visit our great city and they get victimized.”

The fencing operation under investigation appears to be sophisticated in nature, Loftus said, pointing to anti-surveillance techniques used by those storing stolen electronics. There were also signs of an electronics “chop shop” where digital products were dismantled and sold for parts.

“Many of the phones recovered were wrapped in aluminum foil in a bin to avoid detection,” she said. “There are other signs from this operation that show it’s a sophisticated approach.”

Loftus said officers also raided a storage facility that belonged to a suspect and found approximately $750,000 worth of tagged clothing items from retail stores.

In all, 30 warrants have been served so far in Operation Focus Lens, she said.

Luxury purses were among the $2 million worth of stolen property recovered as part of “Operation Focus Lens.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Karin Flood, executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District said her group assisted authorities with video surveillance provided by its network of 375 security cameras.

“With that network we are able to often tell a story of what happened,” Flood said. “We can see maybe the approach, the crime taking place, the getaway. We can see who the people are, who they were with earlier that day and really start to piece together the story of what happened, and to help the police officers and the DA’s Office in solving those cases.”

The DA’s Office is also hoping to reunite robbery victims with their stolen belongings.

Anyone who has had their cellphone or laptop stolen in The City is encouraged to call 628-652-4343 to report their stolen property and provide the serial or IMEI number.

Bay Area NewsCrimesan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

SF Board of Education vice president Gabriela Lopez and commissioner Alison Collins listen at a news conference condemning recent racist and social media attacks targeted at them and the two student representatives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Online attacks on school board members denounced by city officials

City officials on Monday condemned the targeting of school board members, both… Continue reading

Most Read