Crime Beat

Bad reputation

San Francisco’s crime problem is making it famous

To steal from Joan Jett’s “victim of Circumstance,” San Francisco is “Just a victim of a bad reputation / I [got] no chance of shakin’.” The reputation in question is the public safety on our streets, in our homes, and at our businesses. From the cleanliness or lack thereof on our streets and sidewalks to thefts and auto break-ins, the city’s reputation is bad and it’s got no chance of shakin’.

In an online search for “San Francisco crime,” the top result is a site claiming that San Francisco’s violent crime rate is “one of the highest in the nation, across communities of all sizes (both large and small).” That doesn’t quite match up with reality, but bad reputations generally don’t, Hitler aside. As reported here (“Criminal intent,” March 2019), according to federal crime statistics, San Francisco is not at the top of the violent crime rankings. Also, like many places, its violent crime rates have dropped. But it is harder to put a positive spin on its property crime rate, which is dismal. And people notice. A Texas blogger wrote that the district attorney of Dallas was “going to turn Dallas into San Francisco” because of his decision to stop prosecuting petty crime. Then again, she also writes that she is “Always a patriot. Shoot guns and play tennis. But not at the same time.” So she’s got a sense of humor.

It is left for the citizens of San Francisco to try to improve the city’s reputation.

Here is just a sampling of the cases handled by the officers at Northern Station and Central Station.


March 29, 9:48 p.m.

Fillmore and Fell Streets

A man who knocked a “Make America Great Again” hat off another man’s head was attacked by the MAGA man, who was wielding a sword. The victim raised his hand to protect his face, and the sword nearly severed the hand. MAGA man then fled the scene, but police had a lot of video from the area, and they found a beer bottle with the attacker’s fingerprints. They tracked down MAGA man at a local KFC restaurant and took him into custody on April 3. His bail was set at $250,000.


March 27, 5:53 p.m.

Geary and Laguna Streets

While waiting at a Muni bus stop, the victim heard noise behind her and then two subjects grabbed her phone. A struggle ensued, with the thieves ultimately successful at getting the phone out of her hands and then fleeing the scene. With the help of Watchtower video surveillance, a police investigator recognized the subjects from similar robberies in the neighborhood and distributed a crime bulletin for their arrest. The first subject was caught on April 3 and arrested for robbery; the second subject was captured three days later.


March 18, 1:02 a.m.

Van Ness Avenue and Geary Street

While heading to the site of a reported burglary, officers witnessed a vehicle speeding away from the area and running stop lights. Thinking that the vehicle might have been involved with the burglary, officers caught up with the vehicle. The occupants were ordered to exit the vehicle for a weapons search — with negative results. A computer search on the driver of the vehicle determined that he was on probation, had a restraining order prohibiting him from possessing firearms, a suspended license, and a warrantless search condition.

Naturally, the officers determined the vehicle needed to be towed, and during an inventory search of the vehicle, they located a loaded firearm, with an extended magazine concealed in the center console. All of the subjects were then placed under arrest.


March 16

2083 Union Street

Officers responded to a report of the theft of more than $1,600 worth of perfume products. The officers were able to get photos of the suspects, which were sent out to all  units via a crime bulletin. On March 19, Tenderloin police saw one of the suspects and arrested him, transporting him to Northern Station, where he was booked on grand theft and conspiracy. Later that same day, a Northern Station sergeant on patrol recognized the other suspect. The sergeant positively identified her and arrested her for grand theft, conspiracy, and a probation violation.


March 8, 10:57 p.m.

Fillmore and Eddy Streets

A female resident of an apartment was lying down in the living room when a subject unlawfully entered the unit. She screamed, and the other resident ran out of his bedroom to chase the intruder; he also managed to grab his personal pair of handcuffs and was able to successfully handcuff the subject until police arrived.


February 25, 9:48 a.m.

Octavia and Hayes Streets

A subject entered a coffee shop and tried to steal the tip jar. Employees and a customer stopped him from leaving, detaining him for police. When officers arrived, he tried to flee and resisted arrest. He was arrested for an outstanding warrant for misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. He complained of medical issues and was transported to the hospital, but while in transit, he made comments to officers that led to him being transferred to Psychiatric Emergency Services.  The coffee shop victim stated that he did not want to press charges, but it was determined that probable cause still existed for the subject to be arrested on a robbery charge.


February 21

Bay and Webster Streets

Upon reviewing surveillance video of a burglary in his residence, the victim recognized the intruder as his neighbor. He filed a report. On March 2, another burglary occurred, and the victim again recognized his neighbor on the surveillance footage, and he called the police. Officers arrived to investigate; they saw the subject leave her residence and detained her. After interviewing the victim, probable cause existed to arrest her for the burglaries.


January 16, 6:20 p.m.

Unit block of Drumm Street

Officers responded to a report of a robbery. The suspect had entered a store and jumped over the counter, taking cigarettes and putting them into his backpack. The victim confronted the suspect and a struggle took place. The suspect pushed the victim, causing him to hit his head against a food display, and threatening to kill him if he did not step aside. The victim stepped aside — and the robber went to the register and filled his backpack with lottery scratcher tickets, perhaps in case the cigarettes didn’t do it for him. He then fled the store and went to BART, where he was detained.

Officers learned that the suspect had also entered the store on Jan. 6 and had stolen cigarettes after jumping over the counter. He was booked at County Jail for robbery, burglary, and possession of stolen property.

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