Police Blotter

How to spot crime after it happens

We all know how to identify a crime after it happens, but it can still be helpful to know what a neighborhood’s crime profile is before moving into it or visiting it for a night out. There are several online resources that San Franciscans (and out-of-town visitors) might find useful to get a quick look at the numbers and types of crimes across San Francisco.

Spot Crime ( is a rather confusing source. Its map provides little information when clicking on the blue icons on the map, and when you go to a linked page for more information, it appears mostly designed to feed you to advertisers. But you can still get a Google Streetview photo of the crime location and a very brief description of the crime (such as “prowler”) and the case number to use to get more information from police records.

The San Francisco Police Department’s CrimeMAPS feature ( is arguably the handiest source (which is no surprise; it is accessed from the police department website, after all). You can determine the timeframe of the crimes you want to see displayed; the crimes are shown categorized with easy-to-read icons for different types of offenses (theft/larceny, vehicle break-in/theft, burglary, and so forth). Click on the icons for more information about the crime.

San Francisco Crimespotting (link) has a different interface from some of the other sources, but here too you can set timeframes and search by type of crime.

Of course, real estate companies also have an interest in giving people information about potential neighborhoods they might move into (or reasons to move out of other neighborhoods). For example, Trulia (link) includes crime mapping along with info on neighborhood amenities, demographics, commuting, and more.

The crimes below are a small snapshot of what the officers of Northern Station are doing. For a more comprehensive list, visit; under Compstat, select the link to CrimeMAPS.


Aug. 25, 12:27 a.m.
Broadway St. at Van Ness Ave.

Officers on patrol attempted to catch up to a car after they observed it make an illegal u-turn. The car sped up and slowed down, making random turns, appearing to try to lose the officers. They were nonetheless able to keep up and get the license plate number, and then turned on their siren. While traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, the car finally pulled over.

The driver got out of the car and began to walk away from the vehicle before officers ordered him to return to the car and turn it off. He complied. The male subject was apologetic, saying, “I’m sorry, I screwed up. I just don’t want a ticket.” Smelling a strong odor of alcohol from his breath and person, the officers said they believed he might have been driving under the influence. He submitted to a series of field sobriety tests, in which he performed unsatisfactorily. He was arrested and given a breath test. He was over the legal limit, and he admitted having four beers. He was booked at County Jail.


Aug. 25, 6:30 p.m.
Palace Drive at Lyon Street

A large number of auto burglaries in this area resulted in the deployment of plainclothes officers. Tempting targets are provided by the tourists and other visitors who flock to the area around the Palace of Fine Arts, often leaving bags and luggage visible inside their vehicles. Officers watched a car driving slowly through the area; eventually, the driver got out and the officers recognized him as someone they had arrested previously for auto burglary. He approached several vehicles and peered inside them, then walked back to his car, possibly scared that he was being watched. Officers approached him on foot and detained him. They ran a computer check and discovered he was on probation with a warrantless-search condition; during a search, they found a window punch, which is commonly used to break auto glass. He was booked at Northern Station.


Aug. 26, 7:30 a.m.
1800 Block of Sutter Street

Officers responded to a call about two older males in a fight. They discovered one who was down on the ground bleeding heavily from his head. They applied direct pressure to the head wound and called for paramedics. Witnesses explained that the fight began in front of the cultural center. One subject became angry and believed the other had cut in line in front of him. A verbal argument ensued, and then the subject went and retrieved a milk crate. He returned and proceeded to hit the other man twice in the head with the milk crate.

A witness was able to point out the subject, who was still in the area. The subject was booked at Northern Station.

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