SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Police in San Francisco say they are seeing progress since the department began working with new strategies to reduce the number of car break-ins happening in the city.
Earlier this year, rampant auto burglaries in the city led the SFPD to roll out a team of investigators for their Mission and Taraval stations as part of a pilot program to tackle the ongoing car break-in problem.
San Francisco resident Gregg Bryon has resorted to putting a handwritten note in the back of her Volkswagon, hoping a personal plea might deter criminals. Just last week her car was broken into yet again.
“It’s been very frustrating. It was the fifth window break-in since January 2017,” said Byron.
Her story isn’t uncommon. Broken glass consistently lines the streets of San Francicso, and break-ins are often called a rite of passage by locals.
On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors reviewed the department’s data from January through September and found the car break-ins in both areas are going down.
“So from 2016 to 2017, when we started this conversation with the board, we were significantly up,” said SFPD Chief Bill Scott. “Through this work that’s been done, we’re not at a reduction. But we’ve reduced it to a six percent increase, which is significant.”
At Taraval, car break-ins were down 21 percent. At Mission Station, the number actually rose six percent. But police are calling that a small victory, because in previous years that annual increase was closer to 20 percent.
“As an aggregate number, we’re seeing significant reductions,” said SF District Attorney George Gascon.
“It’s never a good thing to be going up, but we have to measure our success by where it was relative and we’re not done. We’re working every day to make it go down,” said SFPD Deputy Chief of Field Operations Michael Redmond.
On Wednesday, police in the department’s Southern Station downtown announced that plain clothes officers recently arrested a prolific auto burglar.
On Sunday, October 20th, officers observed Matthew Lather burglarize an unoccupied parked vehicle that had packages inside. Police learned that the suspect already had two open burglary cases and currently out on bail at the time of the latest break in.
Still, for victims like Byron, the public trust still isn’t there. She didn’t call police for any of the five break-ins because she didn’t believed they’d help. She thinks more foot patrols will go a long way.
“I don’t know why they’re doing it, but it’s not going down. So I think more patrolling,” said Byron.
Police are reminding drivers to always stay conscious about the surrounding neighborhood when parking their vehicles.
Officials warn that if you park in city garages, you are four times more likely to have your car broken into.