Police keeping eyes open for holiday thieves

Police presence around The City’s shopping hub has become so strong that the department has parked a mobile command center on Market Street to use for a holiday headquarters.

Several officers have been pulled from various parts of San Francisco, according to a department spokesman, to watch for pickpockets, thieves and others who come to the area around Union Square and Westfield San Francisco Centre to prey on holiday shoppers.

The motor-home-size vehicle will be parked near Fifth and Market streets every day through the first of the year.

Police use a similar command post in North Beach to combat crime on the Broadway Street corridor.

Police Sgt. Steve Mannina said it’s all about letting the large crowds of shoppers and would-be thieves see the police presence.

“It does provide a visual presence for people in the area,” Mannina said.

“It’s also a good place for officers to write reports, to use it as a kind of headquarters.”

Mannina said that while officers have their eyes out for all crimes, pickpockets, shoplifters and aggressive panhandlers are some of the most common arrested or cited.

The San Francisco Police Department has also been deployed to watch for pickpockets on Muni and BART during the holiday season, according to officials for the public transportation agencies.

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