Your Bernal Heights Crime Report for February 2012

Reader Sarah, who valiantly covers the Bernalwood Crime Beat, attended the SFPD’s Ingleside Station Chief’s Meeting this week (so you didn’t have to). Here’s her summary of the latest Bernal Heights crime and crime trend news:

Notes from Ingleside Community Meeting, 2/21/12

Captain Mahoney led the meeting. I chatted with him for a while before the meeting and mentioned the recent resurgence of succulent thefts and dumping incidents. Regarding the latter, the captain said this is a police issue if there’s anything they can act on (which requires witnesses) – so obviously report license plates, truck descriptions, etc. if you see anything suspicious. There do not seem to have been witnesses in the above incidents, so then it becomes a DPW issue.

His first topic was staffing. It’s now one of two times each year when staff can request new assignments — like moving shifts or beats — so you may see some new faces. Staffing in general is getting more challenging. When Captain Lazar was at the station, there were 123 officers. It’s now down to 112, and there will be bigger losses with impending retirements. There’s a Police Academy class of 35 starting in May. The Chief has asked the Supervisors for four classes in 2013, and three per year after that, in order to partially fill in the holes that will be left by the big wave of retirements.

Because emergency calls take priority, reduced staffing can mean hits to other initiatives – at Ingleside, that’s been to the investigative team, where some members have had to go onto patrols. He has not made any reductions to the gang task force, which some other stations have done.

He is down one lieutenant – one was reassigned to the administrative/legal unit, and another to Homeland Security. A new lieutenant, Mike Dudoroff, has arrived.

CRIME STATS & TRENDS:
For the period from January 22 to February 18:

Everything was down this month vs. last month; the biggest issue continues to be auto thefts.

Incident/Number of Incidents/% Change (Mo.)/% Change (YTD)/Number of Arrests
Aggravated Assault/28/-26%/24%/14
Robbery/16/-41%/-39%/9
Sexual Assault/0/0/0/0
Burglary/20/-5%/-24%/1
Auto Theft/39/-34%/19%/3
Theft from Auto/26/-35%/-52%/0

Regarding the stolen cars, he said that this is a major problem in our district. He estimates 90% of the stolen cars are Hondas from the late 1990s, and that it takes “three locks and a dog in the front seat” to prevent them from being stolen. [Editor's note: we have a stick-shift 1999 Honda, and the manual transmission also appears to thwart today's car thieves.] Interestingly, he said 98% of stolen cars in SF are recovered, suggesting that there’s a kind of high-risk, informal ZipCar system. The recovery location often points to where the thieves live. They made three car-theft arrests in the past week; also use bait cars, work with CHP, and visit people on parole for auto thefts.

There was an incident in Crocker Amazon Park where someone took out the pylon and backed a truck into the park, then began to steal the bleachers (presumably for metal). Someone scared them off mid-way through, but then that person failed to call in the incident for several hours, so the thieves were not caught.

All across SF, bicycle thefts are high. Lt. Dudoroff put together a sting in the district where someone set up a meeting to buy a stolen bike, and this led to the police finding 23 other stolen bikes and a stolen iPad. The captain and his CPAB are putting together a project to get people to voluntarily register their bikes in a database at the station. At the very least, you should keep your bike’s serial number somewhere handy. They often find bikes that they believe are stolen, but no one has reported them missing and given the serial number.

The captain mentioned a couple of notable arrests. Officer Jones singlehandedly arrested several people spraying graffiti on the 3100 block of Mission. Officer Phillips, also working solo, stopped a car driven by a parolee with a stolen gun, a pound of marijuana, and $1400 in cash.

The captain ran traffic enforcement/safety operations at Alemany/Niagara (where there had been two major accidents in four hours one day – one involving a pedestrian and one a motorcyclist) and somewhere off of Cesar Chavez, where they gave warnings to 29 people who were speeding and/or running red lights. He emphasized that they do these operations for safety, not revenue.

Upcoming events – March 17 (St Patrick’s Day) is always a busy day for police; March 20 is the next Ingleside community meeting.

Three marijuana dispensaries were approved by the Planning Commission; two are on the same block (addresses are 4218 Mission, 5258 Mission, and 5234 Mission). Neighborhood groups were upset. There are still some additional approvals that need to be granted before the dispensaries open.

Jon Shepherd from SFSAFE was there. He has started several neighborhood watches recently. If you’re interested in starting one on your block, call him at (415) 553-1983.

A representative of Recology was there as well. There will be a cleanup program on Saturday, 3/10, from 8am to 12pm in the playground parking lot at Crocker Amazon Park. You can bring bulky items, hazardous materials, etc. Info here.

Someone asked about reporting graffiti. The captain said you can report this through 311 or by filling out a report on the SFPD site. At Ingleside, the officer in charge of graffiti is Marty Ferreira, but his area of focus is gang-related graffiti, and he’ll refer other graffiti to DPW or the City Attorney, which enforces property owners’ removal of graffiti.
Speaking of the City Attorney, Jana Clark has been assigned to a new division within the office, and the new City Attorney rep for Ingleside will be Michael Karnes – michael.karnes at sfgov dot org.

PHOTO: Steve Rhodes

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8 thoughts on “Your Bernal Heights Crime Report for February 2012

    • My understanding is that it’s less about the cars’ innate value and more about their commonality as an inexpensive platform for high-performance modifications. Put another way, Hondas are the new Novas.

      • I’m not sure this is the case, I think they are more used for joy-riding or a free ride home, and then ditched (“98% of stolen cars in SF are recovered, suggesting that there’s a kind of high-risk, informal ZipCar system.”)

        And as for manual transmission being a possible deterrent, I wouldn’t feel so safe because my roommates 90’s Honda with manual transmission has been stolen (and recovered) twice in the past six months. Both times it was parked on Chavez between Guerrero and Dolores.

        Thanks for the report

  1. Ben, yes, I think that the 1990s Hondas are “borrowed” for the day and then abandoned. They are easily stolen because of shaved keys (http://protectyourcar.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/shaved-keys-pose-vehicle-theft-risk-reported-by-cbs-news-8-san-diego-ca/), apparently. Our Honda is always parked on the street, and maybe I’m tempting fate by touting the magical powers of the stick shift, but so far it’s been left alone when other Hondas nearby have been stolen. That said, it has had its steering wheel, side mirror, and battery stolen (all when it was parked on Holly Park).

  2. Tying together a few threads here… One reason so many stolen cars are recovered is that neightbors frequently report unrecognized cars that are parked in front of their houses for more than 72 hours.

  3. This is what has happened recently in St Mary’s Park:

    A man who lives in SMP was robbed last night (Thursday, March 1st) at the corner of College and Benton Aves. He was coming home from work at 7:45 pm. One man came from behind a truck…wearing a black ski mask…said he had a gun and would shoot my husband if he didn’t give him his belongings. Another man came up behind him and gave him the same warning. They took everything from his pockets, his backpack (which contained his wallet, cash, credit cards, checks, keys to our home and our two cars and car locks, office work and papers) and his raincoat which they discarded in the grass a few houses up the street. They ran east on Benton toward St. Mary’s Park Rec Center.

    The route the 2 perps took is an easy get away. Roll up ski masks – Run into rec ctr if open, grab a b’ball, be part of the crowd, nobody would notice; or run down trail into Alemany Projects; or run across bridge walkway into the Excelsior. If running the other way into the Benton Ave cul de sac, just jump the fence onto 280, run towards Alemany or Mission Sts.

    The police responded immediately and a report was given.

    All – please be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity immediately to the police.

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