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Sunset district home robberies, package thefts prompt hearing

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San Francisco District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar plans to organize with residents a working group to develop strategies to protect residents in the Sunset District from home burglaries and package thefts.

Mar held a hearing Thursday at the Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services to hear from law enforcement officials about strategies and data on residential burglaries, robberies and package thefts, especially incidents that target the Asian community in his district.

The San Francisco Police Department reported at the hearing that citywide home burglaries, robberies and hot prowls were down from 2,949 to 2,826 citywide from 2017 to 2018.

At the Taraval police station, which encompasses the Sunset District, robberies and burglaries were down by 14 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Captain Timothy Falvey, who is in the charge of the general crime unit, said the lower figures are due to the San Francisco Police Department bringing back its burglary and robbery units in November 2017 and having neighborhood crime units at every district police station.

While figures are down year-to-date, residents, particularly in the Sunset District who are elderly, say they still feel unsafe.

Residents from the Sunset District spoke about experiences of people entering their homes and stealing cash and jewelry. In some incidents, family members were home.

One resident who was burglarized said his son was home when the incident happened, but an alarm clock had scared the suspect out of the house.

Another resident, Sunny Chan, who has meals delivered to her 90-year old mother, said through an interpreter that the meals were stolen within the 30-minute delivery period between noon and 12:30 p.m.

Mar said the statistics presented at the hearing do not reflect what residents in the Sunset District are experiencing:

“It doesn’t reflect the reality that residents are seeing in the neighborhoods, and that it really appears that these crimes are increasing in certain neighborhoods and communities, like the Chinese community.”

He added that police need to start gathering data about the ethnicity of the victims to help guide them on to prevent these crimes, especially if suspects are targeting a specific ethnicity:

“It’s quite shocking that the police department doesn’t even have demographic data on these types of crimes. How basic is that. That’s so key in developing effective strategies to prevent the crimes.”

Mar also wanted to see more information about package thefts, which police generally categorize as larceny and not as separate category.

In addition to creating a working group, Mar said he will more broadly focus on how to better educate residents and provide resources to them to make sure they are safe.

He would like to see San Francisco SAFE program expand, which is a program that helps residents make their neighborhoods safer by helping them create neighborhood watch groups and can provide free consultation of a person’s home on how to make it safer.

Mar said:

“This really is a first step in bringing greater attention to these issues of property crime, targeting residents in their home and towards developing stronger strategies and efforts to prevent these types of crimes.”

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