San Francisco businesses see uptick in burglars using blowtorches

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – There’s an uptick in burglars using blowtorches to break into San Francisco businesses. Several incidents were caught on camera this past week.

Now, business owners are looking at ways to step up security against these latest tactics.

The store owner at San Francisco Optics quickly replaced their window which cost nearly $10,000 to fix. 

While that’s a very expensive break-in, the security expert says this special type of window helped prevent the suspect from getting inside and taking more from the owner.

Crooks in San Francisco are using new tactics to break into businesses.

“When I learned about the blow torch component, I was surprised and shocked. Obviously, they’re getting creative,” Alex Feldman said.

Most recently, Alex Feldman’s store, San Francisco Optics, in the Marina District became a target. 

In the surveillance video from Sunday, you’ll see the glass crack after the suspect took a blow torch to the window.

However, unlike other business owners, he says the suspect never made it inside his store.

The owner of Footprint in the Outer Sunset, Michael Hsu, wasn’t as lucky on Friday.

“It looks like they used some type of blow torch and then they heated the corner of the glass before shattering it and then they ripped it off slowly to gain entry,” Hsu said.

President of Warman Security in San Francisco, Peter Badertscher, says he hasn’t seen this before.

“It’s absolutely astonishing people are going to these lengths to break in,” Badertscher said.

Badertscher believes the thieves are turning to blowtorches because certain alarms aren’t as easily triggered when the heat hits the glass.

“Piece of glass breaks, the alarm sounds and it has to be a certain frequency. When you use a blow torch that’s not the frequency of glass breaking which means the alarms not going to be triggered but it’s pretty brazen to bring a blow torch in the middle of the night to a window,” Badertscher said.

To prevent thieves from gaining entry with blowtorches, Badertscher recommends installing shatter-resistant windows and an additional clear security adhesive film to the windows. 

It’s something that prevented a break-in at Feldman’s store and also at a Pacific Heights grocery store a few months ago.

“Window itself is an Anti break, bulletproof, impact-resistant window and on top of that there’s the laminate that’s also impact resistant,” Feldman said.

Although they cost a pretty penny, Badertscher also recommends getting sliding gates. 

He says he’s never seen the crime this high in San Francisco and it may become an unfortunate necessity to wear off the brazen break-in tactics these days.

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