Smash-and-grab car heists on the rise

With the summer travel season on hand, out-of-towners and locals alike need to keep a close watch on their belongings, as a recent spate of car break-ins indicates.

San Francisco police in the Central District, which encompasses North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf and parts of downtown, said car burglaries continue to occur frequently along the Embarcadero and the Wharf and police have stepped up patrols of the area.

Just last week, officers received 19 reports of cars broken into — 14 of which occurred between 2 and 10 p.m. — and made two arrests. Burglars took cameras, global positioning system units, iPods and cell phones from cars.

The burglars do not go out on “fishing expeditions” but pace a row of parked cars on the street or in a parking garage, looking for valuables in the car, according to police. Suspects also ride bikes past parked cars to gain a better vantage point into the car.

“When we do catch the individuals, the majority are drug-related individuals looking to score some quick cash,” Central district Capt. Jim Dudley said.

They might steal big-ticket items such as a laptop computer, but only sell it for $50-$100, he said.

Police have begun putting together operations for officers to patrol “hot spots,” such as the Embarcadero or near Fisherman’s Wharf, and the results are tabulated for a weekly report so the department can stay on top of the problem, Dudley said.

“It’s a crime of opportunity that only literally takes a minute or less to take place,” Dudley said.

Police recommended taking all valuables from the car — including bags, phone cords, chargers and cradles for hand-held electronics — or at least tucking them out of view in the trunk.

Lynn Bloom, a civilian aide at Central Station and a lifetime San Francisco resident, said she was “embarrassed” to take these reports from tourists because of how it reflects on The City.

“They’ll take something that means everything to you and me but nothing to them, and they’ll dump it,” Bloom said. “You feel bad because people come from out of town and boom! Their things are gone.”

dsmith@examiner.com


Have you had possessions stolen from your car?

Share your comments below.

Bay Area NewsLocal

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

Just Posted

District Attorney Chesa Boudin announces charges against former SFPD Officer Christopher Samoyoa in the 2017 fatal shooting of Keita O’Neill at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
DA Boudin charges fired SFPD officer with manslaughter over fatal shooting

Ex-Officer Christopher Samayoa to face criminal charges in killing of Keita O’Neil

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, during a news conference on March 10, 2020. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
LA County suspends outdoor dining at restaurants as coronavirus surges

By Alex Wigglesworth Los Angeles Times Los Angeles County public health officials… Continue reading

Renderings of the main entrance to upcoming Mission Bay elementary school on Owens Street. (Courtesy photo)
SFUSD offers first look at planned Mission Bay elementary school

San Francisco school officials this month unveiled the design of a planned… Continue reading

James Coleman (Courtesy Morgan McCarthy)
Young progressive set to shake up South City

The 21-year-old is the newest Councilmember for District 4

Arturo Mendez, co-curator of the Mission Arts Performance Project, invites artists of all types to participate in the free-wheeling community program. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Mission Arts Performance Project could be poised for a comeback

Before the pandemic, the Mission Arts Performance Project, the roving multimedia art… Continue reading

Most Read