Sacramento mayor’s bag stolen as he helps elderly man in S.F.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson frequently traveled during the 12 years he spent playing professional basketball in the NBA and was never robbed on the road.

San Francisco put an end to that streak.

The rip-off happened Friday while the mayor was helping an elderly man near Union Square.

Johnson, who was being honored by a youth arts organization at a San Francisco conference, took public transportation from Sacramento. He rode Amtrak to Richmond, then took BART to San Francisco. 

It was at the Richmond BART station that Johnson noticed a man in his 70s struggling with two bags and holding a book. When he overheard the man ask a BART employee for directions to Sutter Street in San Francisco, the mayor interjected and said he was headed the same way and the two could ride together. Johnson found the man a seat and helped him with his bags.

After arriving at the Powell Street station about 8 p.m., the pair began to walk toward Union Square. But, the man was having trouble walking. Johnson flagged down a taxi, handed the driver $20 to cover the four blocks and placed the man’s bags in the trunk.

It took 30 seconds.

But when the mayor turned around, his garment bag was gone.

“That moment of realization is not a pleasant one,” Johnson said.

He ran up and down the busy street, asking people if they saw anything. But the thief — now in possession of Johnson’s suit, shoes and toiletries — had vanished into the crowd.

Johnson, who was to attend a luncheon hosted by Ann Getty on Saturday, had another suit brought to him by aides.

San Francisco police Sgt. Wilfred Williams said police are looking into the matter.

Johnson said the experience hasn’t clouded his view of San Francisco, and he has no plans to travel with bodyguards or in limos.

However, Johnson said he plans to give Mayor Gavin Newsom a good ribbing about the incident.

“I haven’t determined who I am going to endorse for governor, but he’s not off to a good start with this one,” Johnson said.

Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard did not return calls for comment. 

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