One dozen accused of victimizing the vulnerable

A dozen people accused of preying upon San Francisco’s poorest residents were arrested in two stings in the Tenderloin and Market Street areas.

On Friday and Monday, officers in The City’s robbery abatement team went undercover in the neighborhoods in an effort to catch people who commit violence against the homeless, San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens said.

“These are crimes of opportunity through force and fear, which makes these operations dangerous for the officers posing as potential victims,” Gittens said. “Sometimes they’ll hit the officer, punch him or kick him. This is what goes on with these robberies.”

Friday afternoon’s sting netted the arrests of six men on Sixth and Seventh streets within one block of Market Street, while five men and one woman were arrested Monday in the vicinity of Jones and Leavenworth streets and Golden Gate Avenue.

All of the suspects have been charged with robbery or grand theft, and two also face drug charges.

The robbery stings are part of an ongoing crackdown in the area through drug busts, fugitive recovery efforts and stepped up foot patrols, Gittens said.

Inspector Brian Danker of the Police Department’s robbery division said people see the homeless as easy targets and take advantage of them.

“It’s a constant with robbery suspects hitting up homeless and semi-inebriated people,” he said. “It’s pathetic out there.”

The criminals don’t appear to be organized, Danker said.

Often the crimes go unreported, Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach said.

“They are criminalized because of their poverty status, so they don’t have the best relationship with police,” Friedenbach said.

Arrested on Friday were San Francisco residents Akalu Samson, 21, Mikel Harris, 42, and Jerome Davis, 54. Also nabbed were Aurelio Lopez, 50, Brian Mullins, 44, and Miguel Agosto, 48, whose addresses are unknown or outside of the area.

On Monday, police arrested San Francisco residents Curtis Johnson, 41, Donna Wilson, 44, and Alonzo Roberts, 43. Walter Hopping, 49, Bobby Hunter, 46, and John Goodman, 38, were also charged. They do not have local addresses.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

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