Maniac Monday: Muni sees spike in cellphone thefts

SF Examiner file photoSudden spike: Despite Monday’s spate of thefts on Muni

SF Examiner file photoSudden spike: Despite Monday’s spate of thefts on Muni

A heartless, thieving woman in a “brown silky dress” is being sought in connection with the near-fatal stabbing of a bus passenger who had lent her his cellphone — one of four robberies of phones on Muni vehicles Monday night.

The woman plunged a knife into the 65-year-old San Francisco man’s chest and snatched his cellphone about 9:30 p.m. on a 19-Polk bus, cops said. The victim remained in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said Tuesday.

The incident happened as the bus approached a stop at Hyde and Turk streets in the Tenderloin. The man let the woman, said to be about 20 years old, borrow his cellphone, according to police. He asked for it back, but she refused, Esparza said. The man tried to “forcibly” take it back, but the woman then pulled out a knife and stabbed him.

The suspect fled the bus with the phone. She was last seen running westbound on Turk Street, Esparza said.

That was the most brutal of four reported Muni robberies Monday night.

Around 6:50 p.m. on the T-Third  line at Third and King streets, a 27-year-old man was punched multiple times and robbed of his smartphone, police said. Less than three hours later, a 41-year-old woman had her cellphone swiped while she played a game on it on a 38-Geary bus. And on a 23-Monterey bus about 10:45 p.m., a 26-year-old was robbed of his phone at knifepoint.

Lea Militello, a commander of the Police Department’s Muni operations, called the high number of robberies “very unusual.” She said she had not experienced that kind of night since she was promoted to her post in May.

Militello said overall crime on Muni has dropped 7 percent since this time last year, according to CompStat data released Friday. She described that rate as “fairly static.”

Police have lauded the data-collection system for helping to reduce crime.

CompStat, which has been used for about two years, is a mapping system that helps cops record reports on where crimes happen, how often they occur and where they might be repeated to help identify trends and guide police on where to send resources, according to the SFPD.

Data on crimes are sent to district stations weekly. The captains of those stations are then tasked with implementing action plans to mitigate trends, Militello said.

Muni riders also can do their part to prevent crimes.

“I would suggest that if you’re going to have an electronic device and you’re wearing earbuds, leave [the device] in your pocket,” Militello said. “If we take away the opportunity, we take away the crime.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com
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Dropped calls

Cellphone-snatching punks targeted Muni passengers Monday night.

Hyde and Turk streets
19-Polk, 9:30 p.m.

Third and King streets
T-Third, 6:50 p.m.

Baker Street and Geary Boulevard
38-Geary, 9:35 p.m.

Near Glen Park BART station
23-Monterey, 10:45 p.m.

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