SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Who could fault Rene Dennis for being frustrated, angry and bewildered after his McAllister Street restaurant has been broken into four times in less than a month.
The restaurant — Chao Pescao — survived the devastating economics of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown but now faces a new challenge.
“They broke into this one,” Dennis said. “You can tell they used a blowtorch. It’s like melted glass.”
The thieves burned through the window, cut off the power, and stole 24 tablets and the liquor before trying to break into the safe. And it didn’t happen just once.
“Four break-ins over the course of two weeks,” he said.
Even more frustrating, Dennis and Tenderloin police caught the suspect in the act the third time, only to catch the same man again just days later.
“He saw and I saw it was the same guy,” Dennis recalled. “We both sort of looked at each other like ‘what is going on here.?”
“We, out in the neighborhoods, and I’ve lived here for 40 years, we don’t see crimes decreasing,” said Caryl Ito.
On the west side of the city, Ito said she’s exhausted with the home break-ins, and she wants change in the district attorney’s office.
“Chesa Boudin believes in restorative justice and reform, and we all want that,” Ito said. “However, I think he’s forgetting about the victims.”
If there is one person at the center of San Francisco’s crime discussion, it is Chesa Boudin; a social justice-minded reformer who campaigned on a platform of decarceration, ending cash bail.
He has delivered on each of those promises, but even beyond the city, Boudin was something of a polarizing figure before his election.
His first 16 months in office have not changed that. Amid several high-profile cases involving repeat offenders, and the surge in burglaries, Boudin now faces not one but two recall campaigns.
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Boudin’s supporters have launched a counter campaign backed by much of the city’s political establishment.
“They are using fear, and they are using misinformation,” San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen said at a pro-Boudin rally in front of city hall recently.
Ultimately, the district attorney’s future in San Francisco, is in the hands of city residents.
“I believe in what Boudin is trying to do, which is social justice reform,” said Lee Jewell, who has lived in Hayes Valley for nearly 20 years.
“All the frustrations that are happening because of the pandemic, because of the economy,” Jewell said. “All the things that are going on, they’re looking to him and blaming him. That’s where the frustration is. It’s misguided, it’s misdirected, and it’s wrong.”
“I voted for him,” Dennis said. “His agenda resonated with me. Just thought perhaps some change was what we needed.”
But after his experience with the restaurant burglaries and what his seen around Civic Center, Dennis says he’s now leaning towards supporting the recall.
“Just a bunch of fingers being pointed,” Dennis said. “And seems like not much being done when it comes to these low level crimes. Even if they do get caught they know they’ll be back out in a day or two, if not the same day.”
“I’m totally frustrated too,” Jewell said. “No one likes the homelessness. No one likes the break ins, but we need to solve this at a societal level. Getting rid of Boudin is not going to solve those problems. It will only make it worse.”