California’s legislators made a big switch of their own in August when they reversed their previous votes against legislation requiring kill switches on new mobile phones sold in the state. The bill, pushed by Sen. Mark Leno, had died earlier this year after strong lobbying by the tech companies — many of which happen to make quite a bit of money selling new phones to victims of smartphone theft.
Now, assuming Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill, new smartphones sold here would have so-called kill switch features installed and enabled. The feature would allow the owner to remotely disable the phone if it were lost or stolen. Some wireless companies had preferred an alternative in which the features would have to be “opt-in,” in which case some consumers would not know or remember to turn on the feature. The legislation passed in August is opt-out, which not only covers more consumers but puts in the minds of potential thieves the expectation that that smartphone they are contemplating grabbing from a pedestrian probably is protected against this very eventuality.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón has said that the majority of robberies in the city involve smartphones.
The crimes below are a small snapshot of what the officers of Northern Station are doing. For a more comprehensive list, visit sf-police.org; under Compstat, select the link to CrimeMAPS.
HE’S WITH THE BAND
June 10, 5:06 p.m.
Eddy at Polk Streets
Plainclothes officers observed a subject taking a guitar case from a vehicle and running away. As they got closer to the vehicle, the officers noticed broken glass next to the car; they followed the individual, who ran up Polk Street. He met up with another individual and both of them ran up Polk; they were soon joined by yet a third subject. When one officer yelled, “Police, stop” the subject with the guitar case dropped it and ran away even faster with his compatriots — one of whom dropped a backpack. All three were eventually caught and detained. The subjects were booked at Northern Station.
THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS
June 13, 7:43 p.m.
Fillmore at Bay Streets
A semi-intoxicated male was taken into custody after a report of vandalization of a Muni bus. The bus driver had stopped to take a bathroom break when the subject entered the bus through the rear door. The driver escorted him off the bus and left to take his break. When he returned, the subject had kicked out both main door windows. The subject was booked at Northern Station.
June 20, 7:50 p.m.
2700 Block of Octavia Street
More than 20 witnesses told police a similar story: Three young male subjects had come into a nail salon, pointed handguns at victims and stole purses, laptop bags, wallets, and jewelry before fleeing. An officer spotted the getaway car with three occupants inside. Additional units were called. When officers turned on their siren and lights, the vehicle sped off at a high rate of speed. An on-again, off-again chase across the city ended near Ninth and Mission, where the getaway car had crashed into another vehicle.
Officers were able to locate and detain the three subjects, who were positively identified by witnesses from the nail salon and others who had observed them flee the car after it had crashed. Numerous stolen purses, cell phones, and firearms were recovered from the car, and the subjects were booked at Northern Station.
June 21, 2:20 p.m.
700 block of Turk Street
A citizen called to alert police of a gray car driving around the area with four armed males aboard. Officers spotted the vehicle and noticed several mechanical violations on it, so they tried to pull it over; however, the car accelerated away. Heavy traffic forced it to slow down, and police were able to catch up and attempt to remove the occupants. A rear passenger bolted from the vehicle but was quickly detained, as were the other passengers without incident. A search of the vehicle found several loaded handguns and an assault rifle with a large capacity magazine. One of the subjects was already on federal probation for possessing a short-barrel shotgun. They were booked at Northern Station.
MORE CAR CHASING
July 13, 5:21 p.m.
1700 Van Ness Avenue
A citizen flagged down officers on patrol and told them his store was just burglarized. The officers saw two male subjects get into a vehicle and speed away. The officers pursued the vehicle, which did not stop when they turned on their lights and siren, and additional officers were called into the area. At one point the passenger got out of the vehicle and began to run away, chased on foot by one officer while the other continued after the driver of the vehicle.
Eventually, both suspects were taken into custody and were positively identified by the victim from the store. They were transported to Northern Station for further investigation and later booked at County Jail.