SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – A growing number of private citizens in San Francisco’s Marina District are hiring a private cop over concerns about crime.

Fed up with smashed car windows, reports of home burglaries and robberies in the Marina District has brought a private cop who patrols this area a lot more clients of late.

“This year, I’ve gotten a lot more calls and a lot more emails and increased clients people in the marina a basically scared about what’s going on they see your TV radio reports on social media and they don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods so that’s why I have been contacted,” Alan Byard said. 

Patrol Special Police Officer Alan Byard drives, and sometimes walks around the Marina, in addition to parts of Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights, usually seven days a week from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Unlike private security, patrol special police officers have been part of the city charter since the 1850’s and have similar uniforms to SFPD and are authorized to make arrests.

Byard says he’s added 50 to 60 more private clients since the pandemic, bringing the total of citizens who each pay him $65 a month to keep an eye out for suspicious activity up to 165 people.

Former FBI agent, now private investigator, Rick Smith has been a client for about six years.

“You have to do what you have to do in San Francisco right now. The district attorney is unable or unwilling to prosecute almost anyone, so we thought we had to do something for ourselves,” Smith said.

A spokesperson for the DA’s office says property crimes, like car break-ins, happen fast, making it hard for the police to catch those who commit them, and says their office has a filing rate comparable, if not higher than previous administrations and neighboring counties.

Here is the full statement released by the District Attorney’s office:

Property crimes like car burglaries cost victims time, money, and their sense of security, and the DA’s Office takes these crimes seriously. They often happen fast, making it hard for the police to catch those who commit these crimes. 

We are disappointed to hear the continued spread of misinformation and inaccuracies about our office’s prosecution rates.  The filing rates of the DA’s Office under DA Boudin have been comparable if not higher than in recent administrations and neighboring counties.  For example, although currently only about 2% of auto burglaries in San Francisco result in an arrest, the DA’s Office has prosecuted the overwhelming majority of those auto burglary cases (we have filed new charges in approximately 77% of them and have taken action in 87%). 

Property crimes like car break-ins are profitable because of the networks that fence stolen goods, which we are working to deter, disrupt, and dismantle. In addition to prosecuting individual cases, our efforts include working with state, federal and local law enforcement agencies to target upstream and take down high level participants. We are currently working on more than half-a-dozen additional confidential operations and will continue our work to ensure that everyone in San Francisco feels safe.

Rachel Marshall – Director of Communications for the Office of San Francisco District Attorney