Home » Neighborhood Crime Watch » Fighting Car Break-Ins in the Rincon Hill Neighborhood

Fighting Car Break-Ins in the Rincon Hill Neighborhood



Photo taken by Jamie Whitaker

After posting information about the SeeClickFix web site the other day, one of the issues of great concern in the Rincon Hill neighborhood posted to the SeeClickFix web site is the issue of car break-ins in the neighborhood.

While this is a problem that is all too common in all of San Francisco’s downtown neighborhoods, it sometimes seems like we see an especially high number of instances of broken windshield glass along Rincon Hill’s sidewalks. The Chronicle ran a story about a car break-in police sting near St. Mary’s Cathedral (on Gough Street in Hayes Valley, I believe) earlier this summer. The article says that a car parked in the area (with appropriate GPS and laptop computer bait sitting out visible) lasted all of one and a half minutes before a thief broke the windshield with a spark plug and made off with those items.

The photo posted above shows what was almost certainly the vehicle of someone who drove to the City to go to a San Francisco Giants game and who made the error in judgement of leaving a GPS visible through the window while parking on Harrison between Spear and Main Streets. A detachable GPS is easy pickings for a thief and easy to sell. My sense is that a good portion of the car break-ins in our neighborhood are likely visitors who just don’t realize the importance of keeping their valuables out of sight in their vehicles (better yet, not leaving valuables in the car at all), though I’m sure some residents have also had the misfortune to experience break-ins – despite hiding any valuables from view.

The San Francisco Police Department’s CrimeMaps web site shows that over the past 90 days, there have been 237 reported instances of theft and 17 reported stolen vehicles in Rincon Hill and nearby – the nightlife-centric streets of Howard and 2nd seeming to be the most common spots. Below is a picture from the CrimeMaps site that references the reported crimes over the past 90 days (5/31/08 through 8/28/08).

What are some steps we can take?

  1. Program the non-emergency SFPD phone number into your cell phone – it is 415-553-0123. While you’re at it, go ahead and program the EMERGENCY ONLY SFPD number into your cell phone as well – it is 415-553-8090 (a 911 call from your cell phone typically goes to the California Highway Patrol first, delaying the response of SFPD patrol officers).
  2. USE the Non-Emergency SFPD number whenever you see suspicious looking activities on the streets in Rincon Hill. I do mean anything suspicious. If someone is leaning against a building and not smoking a cigarette or near an entrance/exit to the building, I would call that number and ask the police to drive by to check him or her out. That’s part of their job, and Rincon Hill property taxes are injecting a hell of a lot of new revenues into the City and County of San Francisco – the least we deserve are patrol cars to drive by when we request them.
  3. Keep valuables out of sight – and I would follow this rule in your building’s parking garages too. While most of our medium to large condo buildings may have 24 hour security, we need to do our part as well.
  4. If you park on the street, try to park in well-lit, visible areas that have some regular pedestrian traffic. Of course, there’s really no spot in Rincon Hill at the moment that provides a lot of pedestrian traffic after 6 p.m. or so during the week except The Embarcadero and Steuart Street.
  5. Make use of vehicle security devices – as annoying as car alarms are (especially when triggered by jackasses with loud motorcycle mufflers who love to stream into the City across the Bay Bridge on the weekends – grrr – sorry, pet peeve of mine), they do serve to help scare criminals off. I think all residents should have a steering wheel lock of some sort for their vehicle.
  6. Hold your police and elected officials accountable – sitting on your hands will achieve absolutely nothing. Get on the phone, take MUNI over to City Hall to say hello to the Mayor and your Supervisor, and let our elected officials know that you want to get additional services in Rincon Hill for the additional money we’re pumping into the City’s coffers. Write letters to the editor of the newspapers – politicians will react to publicly voiced issues a lot quicker than an email you send to him or her because they mainly care about their political career.

On the bright side, I’m happy to report that some folks live in the City for years and never have their car broken into. We do live in a downtown City environment, so we must be more vigilant about crimes than folks who live in suburbia. Making those phone calls to the non-emergency SFPD number when you see suspicious activity is really easy to do and a great help in fighting these and other crimes in the neighborhood.

Here’s a video of a newscast about car break-ins in the Civic Center area from ABC 7 that aired a couple of years ago that I thought you might be interested in.



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