SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A brazen daytime smash-and-grab robbery in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was foiled after the victim managed to stop the robber from taking his items in an incident captured on cellphone camera video.

A witness happened upon the scene as was driving back from lunch Wednesday on Martin Luther King Drive near Kezar Drive.

The video shows a man in a blue hoodie grabbing a suitcase out of the broken window of a parked SUV and running across the street with it along with a stolen backpack. At that moment, the victim arrives and runs after him and the robber flees, dropping the suitcase in the middle of the street.

The victim then wrestles his backpack away from the robber, just before the he hops into the getaway car driven by an accomplice.

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“I saw this guy at the car and I thought he was just trying to open it, but then I saw him break the window and then I’m like, he’s doing one of those smash-and-grabs,” said San Francisco resident Forrest Lanning who shot the video. “And then he was going to run across the street and what I didn’t expect is the owner of that car, chased after him.”

Lanning also snapped a photo of the suspects’ Chevy Impala with license plate 5ZZN552 and called police. He says the victim and his family, including a toddler, were visiting from Seattle. They had checked out of their hotel Wednesday morning.

“I’ve never seen it done in the neighborhoods, it’s always Golden Gate Park, because where they know there’s tourists,” said Lanning. “Something needs to be figured out because this is a really rampant problem.”

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So far this year, SFPD crime data shows that in the two districts that cover Golden Gate Park, the Park and Richmond Districts,
robberies are up 74%, burglaries increased 222%, and car thefts jumped 31%, compared with the same period last year.

Larceny thefts, which include smash-and-grabs and shoplifting, are down 44%, presumably because there have been fewer tourists parking their cars in the city during the pandemic, and many stores have been closed due, police said.

“I walk in the park very frequently, and especially along this corridor here, I frequently see smashed glass on the ground from cars that have been broken into,” said Nick, a resident in the area who declined to give his last name. “There are a lot of people who are hurting out there, a great deal of inequality, but there are also people who are opportunists.”

Lanning said this is the second smash-and-grab he’s seen unfold right in front of him in Golden Gate Park in two years. He says in both cases, the victims had just checked out of hotels, and had luggage in their cars.

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