The San Francisco Police Department released new statistics regarding auto break-ins at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors public safety committee on Wednesday, and the data shows mixed results.

Police officials began a pilot program at the Taraval and Mission police stations earlier this year to refocus resources and efforts to combat auto burglaries and property theft, especially bike thefts, in residential neighborhoods.

The request came last year from supervisors Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen who introduced a resolution calling for the Police Department to come up with a comprehensive plan to tackle auto break-ins and property theft.

Yee said at the board hearing that many of people know of someone or have been a victim themselves of a car break-in:

“This should not be a reality that our residents and visitors face when they live and visit our world-class city.”

SFPD Deputy Chief of the Field Operations Bureau Michael Redmond said both Taraval and Mission stations piloted different strategies, including targeting retail parking lots, educating merchants, bait car and bike operations and surveillance operations.

The pilot relied on having a property crime liaison officer working on car break-ins and property crime incidents at each station.

The Taraval police station reported 388 burglaries in the first nine months of this year. At the same time last year, there were 402 reported burglaries.

Larceny/thefts are down from 2,221 last year to 1,793 so far this year.

Auto burglaries and auto thefts have seen a 21 percent and 18 percent decline compared to figures last year from January through September.

Bicycle thefts did see a 44 percent increase this year from nine thefts reported last year from January through September to 13 reported so far this year.

Redmond said the station, which encompasses parts of the Sunset and Ingleside neighborhoods, deals with criminals burglarizing residential homes.

Residential burglaries often take place between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when residents are gone for work, said Redmond:

“One of things that we look at in the Taraval is really to look at the areas impacted by crime and running different operations within those areas whether it’s uniform patrol doing traffic because we see mostly in residential neighborhoods that suspects are in cars.”

The Mission police station, however, is seeing a six percent increase in auto burglaries, a 11 percent increase in larceny/theft and a 22 percent increase in bike thefts.

Redmond said while there are property crime issues in the district during the daytime, there are also violent crime issues during the nighttime that police are focusing on investigating:

“If we can’t control our violent crime, we can’t really focus on property crime that much.”

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission District, said statistics seemed to show that the pilot is not working in her district and asked Redmond how supervisors can support the department.

Redmond said one of the biggest draws for burglars are retail parking lots, and that Captain Gaetano Caltagirone is working with the retailers on improving security in their parking lots.

The Mission could see an immediate decline from auto break-in working with those retailers and requested supervisors to also work with retailers in boosting security at retail parking lots.

Police Chief Bill Scott said while figures have increased since last year at the Mission station, he reminded supervisors that figures before the pilot began were increasing by double digits:

“We’re not at a reduction but we reduced it to a six percent increase which is significant.”

The District Attorney’s Office plays a role in prosecuting suspects involved in car break-ins and residential thefts.

The office has a Crime Strategy Unit that consists of six prosecutors assigned to different districts, analysts and investigators.

The prosecutors are in different neighborhoods talking with residents about crime issues such as car break-ins and home burglaries, said Maria McKee, a principal analyst with the unit.

Redmond said the next steps is for the department to roll out a property crime liaison at the remaining eight other police stations in November.

The department has already hired a centralized crime strategies coordinator who will evaluate the Taraval and Mission station pilot as well as citywide program and make changes as necessary.

The coordinator will also work with district police captains for better efficiency, said Redmond.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco. Jerold is a San Francisco native who works out of City Hall and rides Muni every single day to work. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn

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