SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Tourists and residents alike are being warned by police about the rising number of smash-and-grab car burglaries plaguing popular San Francisco neighborhoods.
On 4th of July weekend, mobs of tourists are swarming crooked Lombard Street in the Marina District.
But in their rush to take a selfie to commemorate the moment, visitors often leave valuables inside their parked cars.
Surveillance video from Sunday at around noon shows a tourist family from Utah leaving their car. Moments later, along comes a burglar. He looks through the windows one by one before breaking the glass and running away with a purse that had expensive jewelry inside.
Area resident Jose Leos said they were only gone about 15 minutes
It was his surveillance camera caught Sunday’s burglary and another similar break in almost exactly a year ago.
“Happens all the time. I mean, I think it’s gotten worse in the last couple of years,” said Leos. “That’s why I put the camera up over a year ago.”
Andrew Burrell has seen the criminals in action. In fact, just Sunday thieves hopped out of a car to rob a woman at the intersection of Lombard and Jones.
“Right in front of my house. They hopped out of a car and grabbed her purse,” said Burrell. “So there’s just brazen activity that’s going on and it’s frustrating as a resident of 15 years.”
San Francisco police explain they are doing what they can to reduce the number of burglaries.
“We have plainclothes teams and they do make a lot of arrests,” said SFPD Captain Paul Yep. “In the last two months, there’s probably been over 80 arrests of auto burglary suspects in the Central District alone.”
Yep said his undercover team even busted a car burglar Sunday night on Beach Street.
Still, he noted there were 66 car burglaries just in the past week and the numbers are spiking. Thieves will take anything left in the car.
“A lot of the items that are stolen are suitcases, purses and electronic items,” said Yep.
While most locals know not to leave anything of value inside their cars, tourists are not always so careful. Neighbors have started posting homemade signs to warn the tourists.
Yep says more official signs could help, noting that such signs have recently helped reduce some car burglaries in Alamo Square, another tourist area that is frequently targeted.