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Captain’s View, News

Captain’s View: Fact versus fiction

I recently received an e-mail from a resident of the Northern District in regards to an e-mail she had been forwarded. The person who sent it to me did the appropriate thing in forwarding it for verification.

It appeared to be the type of e-mail to warn others of an extremely dangerous encounter. Specifically, it said that a woman had been out running alone in another part of town, a nice part, when (according to the first e-mail) a truck started following her and then occupants yelled something at her. She became scared and jumped into a friend’s car. The police were called and responded and, according to the e-mail, “found a dude hiding in the back seat with trash bags, knives, rope, and chloroform.” Also, “The guy in the back seat was a suspect in a cold case murder investigation and had murdered other women”.

I was surprised that I hadn’t heard anything regarding this sensational attempted crime. So I immediately forwarded the correspondence to the captain of the district of occurrence to find out more.

He looked into the matter and advised me that what was being forwarded was not quite what had happened. Yes, a woman had been followed by the truck and yes, the occupants did make “cat calls” at her, but it gets a little fuzzy after that. What I forwarded compelled Richmond Station to send out an e-mail to the public to clarify some of the issues raised.

The truck was stopped by police but none of the kidnapping-type items were found – no chloroform, bags, ropes, knives, etc. No occupant was determined to be a suspect in any cold case murders.

I write about this not to disparage anyone; communication is essential to preventing crime and I applaud this author for reaching out to others toward that effort. But please, do what the person that e-mailed me did and verify fact from fiction. To verify rumors of this nature, send an e-mail to or call any police station. You can e-mail me at ann.mannix@sfgov.org. The allegations in the message in question were so egregious that I set verification in motion immediately, as I receive e-mail around the clock. Richmond Station concluded their public response with something that you have read many times in this column: always be aware of your surroundings and call 911 if you see anything suspicious.

Crime is slightly up, but the same things keep happening. Burglaries (home break-ins) occur during the day when you are not home and almost all other crimes occur (as my kids say) during dark time. Street robbery reports show criminal opportunists are stealing iPhone 4s (number one choice), followed by other small electronics, then purses and wallets. Car break-ins have opportunists stealing MacBook Pros and purses (yes, people still leave them in their cars and in plain sight). So once again, be aware of your surroundings and always conceal your valuables. And if you are a victim of a crime, report it (some people do not). Finally, if you see anything suspicious, call 911 and let us determine that it was “really nothing.”

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