SAN FRANCISO (KCBS) – An annual public awareness campaign kicked off on Thursday in San Francisco, part of an effort to prevent crime during the Lunar New Year celebration.

Scams, burglaries, robberies and extortion are among the crimes city leaders, including San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, are warning about.

“During this time of the year, we know that traditionally, there is an increase in scams and theft within the Chinese community,” Gascon said.

Jennifer Dhillon, Executive Director of San Francisco SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone), which has organized the campaign for the past 16 years, said ongoing jewelry scams are of particular concern, as the criminals target elderly women.

“They ask them, do you have any problems? Well, that must be because you have evil spirits,” Dhillon said. “They say, bring your valuables and we will cleanse your valuables of the evil spirits.”

Once the jewelry is brought to the scammers, the women are robbed.

Deputy Police Chief Lyn Tomioka also warns against carrying large sums of cash.

“At this time of the year, it’s very traditional for the red envelopes for the family members,” she said.

The Lunar New Year starts on February 10 and the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Festival and Parade in Chinatown is scheduled for February 23.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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