Frequent car break-ins continue to concern San Francisco residents

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Marie Saroyan has lived on Baker Street for over four decades and in the last few years, has seen a stark increase in car break in’s on her street.

The evidence — shattered glass glittering in the gutter.

She believes most victims here are the tourists visiting the Palace of Fine Arts.

“You feel so sorry for these people that are here,” Saroyan said. “They’ve taken their visas, they’re taking their passports, they’ve taken their airline tickets, they’ve taken all the contents of the car. And it happens in 20 or 30 seconds and it’s all over with, so it’s really been very depressing.”

It’s a common problem that frustrates residents and tourists alike, despite the high regularity of its occurrence. 

SFPD said property crime is on a downward trajectory.

Their 2018 crime report showed an 18-percent decrease in car burglaries.

And as of the end of August, this year car break ins were down 8-percent from 2018.

SFPD credits changes in strategy such as higher foot patrols.

But that’s still a whopping 16,000-plus car break in’s in eight months — and those are the ones actually reported.

“This is something it’s front and center in peoples minds because there’s a lot of victims out there,” Richard Corriea said.

Corriea, a retired SFPD commander, is now the director for USF’s International Institute of Criminal Justice Leadership.

He explained why car break-in thieves are tough to catch and tough to prosecute.

“It’s an inefficient crime both to arrest and prosecute you need to have a whole lot of evidence connecting the person with the car, with the actual break in, with the property,” Corriea said. “And in a matter of seconds, that can all change.”

He said the best way to stop a car thief is not to leave any tempting targets inside in the first place.

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