Captain’s View

Don’t be a victim of i-theft

Have any of you been a victim of a theft of an electronic device on the street? If not, do you know anyone that has been a victim? The chances are that each of you has either been a victim or know someone who has. Electronic devices continue to be the #1 choice of thieves on our streets, and the thefts of these devices account for more than 80 percent of all robberies in the city.

The numbers are staggering and, unfortunately, the recovery rate of these electronic devices is not very high. Fortunately, we do recover some of the devices and invariably we recover them because of technological advances that each of you control. I’m talking about a technological advance such as the Find my iPhone feature. Many of you know what Find my iPhone is, but for those who don’t, Find my iPhone allows your phone to be GPS-tracked to wherever it is currently located by simply turning on the notification in the iCloud setting. Though it might seem difficult to set up, it’s not. For those interested in finding out how to easily set up the Find my iPhone feature for whatever phone you currently have, simply type “find my phone set up” and your phone brand into a search engine and you will be you on your way to setting up your phone and hopefully having it quickly found should you lose it or become a victim of theft.

You might be asking, “Can the police actually locate my phone and get it returned to me?” The answer is absolutely.

Here is an example of a recent incident: Two people were walking in the lower Haight Street area when they were robbed of their iPhones. The victims called our dispatch to report the theft and the dispatcher asked the victims if they had Find my iPhone turned on. The victims said yes. Dispatch immediately notified responding officers and one officer called the victim back even prior to our arrival to obtain the victims’ log-in information so we could immediately begin to track the phone. Within a minute, our officers had set up the iPhone tracking, which indicated the phone was just a few blocks from the robbery. Our officers descended into the area, tracked the phone’s exact location, located the suspect, and arrested him within minutes of the robbery — recovering both iPhones that were taken. Though we are not always able to recover every phone taken in a robbery, utilizing Find my iPhone in this robbery was instrumental in not only recovering the stolen phones but in taking a dangerous thief off of our streets.

In order to assist us in any future robberies, I ask that you consider using this tracking tool as it is often instrumental in helping police to recover your phone.


In my last article, I wrote about the return to school for our students and the need for motorists to be aware of students walking to and from school (“Preparing for fall, for kids and adults,” September 2013, Marina Times). I also wrote that uniformed officers would be visible in and around schools to see that the streets were safe for students, parents, and residents. I was pleased to see that we had no incidents involving students and motorists, and I was equally pleased to see that we issued very few citations for violations by motorists around the schools in our district. I firmly believe that education and awareness was the key to our successes, and I’d like to especially thank all of you who live in our district for heeding our students, being aware of the concerns I raised, and for contributing to the successful campaign to keep our students safe.


Staffing levels at Northern Station have remained relatively consistent over the past year, even with fluctuations up and down based on retirements and hiring. We are past the large wave of retirements that our department endured over the past few years, where we lost more than three hundred officers. Thankfully we are now offsetting those losses with hires, and we’ve seen four recruit classes come through training at Northern Station in the past year.

Currently our sworn numbers are at 102 officers at Northern, and I’m hopeful that the number will steadily grow for the next year as we continue Academy classes. I’m hopeful that within the next couple of years Northern station staffing will be back near 120 officers, which will allow for increased patrol officers, increased traffic officers, increased undercover officers, and of most importance, the reinstitution of many of our foot beats that were suspended due to lower staffing levels. I will keep you updated on our personnel at Northern as we move on throughout this year and next year.

Speaking of foot beats, we lost one on the Polk Street corridor recently when longtime Polk Street foot beat officer Philip Papale was transferred to the Traffic Unit (motorcycle officers) after having waited a long time for the assignment. While I was happy for Officer Papale to finally get his chosen assignment, I was disappointed that he would be leaving his long-time beat, where he knows so many of you and had done such a
magnificent job.

But, with all dark clouds, there is a silver lining. Officer Papale recently finished his motorcycle training and he was reassigned back to Northern Station as our newest traffic officer. I’m pleased to have Officer Papale back where he is so familiar and in a capacity where he can continue to serve the public’s needs. You may see Officer Papale riding his motorcycle on the Polk Street corridor and other locations, and when you do, say hello to Phil and welcome him back to the Northern community. His addition to Northern Station fulfills a need for a traffic officer on the night watch, and he will complement the traffic officer we currently have working on our day watch.

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