Your Bernal Heights Crime Report for March 2015: Burglars Burgling, Lots of Auto Break-Ins, and Shotwell Stairs Can Be Sketchy

SFPD

Once again, Neighbor Sarah, your valiant volunteer Bernal Heights crime correspondent, attended the SFPD Ingleside Community meeting this month, and she filed these summary notes on the latest Bernal Heights crime trends. Read on, read carefully, be smart, and stay safe:

Notes from Ingleside Community Meeting, March 17, 2015

I attended last week’s community meeting, as did several Bernal neighbors. The room was as packed as I’ve ever seen it. Lt. Rich Struckman, the night watch commander, filled in for Capt. McFadden.

There was a double homicide in Crocker Amazon recently. SFPD believes it was targeted/gang-related. Can’t share much because it’s a homicide investigation. No retaliation so far.

Rash of burglaries in Nov/Dec/Jan – arrested group of six people related to those. Preliminary hearings going on now. Suspects told SFPD they skipped homes with any sign of alarm/security/etc. Looked for newspapers/pamphlets piling up or other signs people were out of town. Knocked on doors to see if anyone answered. All daytime robberies in that string.

“Be a nosy neighbor.” If you see a crime in progress – even property crimes – call 911. If you see people you think are casing homes or cars, call 553-0123. Try to be detailed when calling.

If you’re calling the police after the fact in a burglary, have the police come take a report – important for investigators because it helps them tie crimes together if, say, an arrest is made in a similar crime in the future.

Lots of auto break-ins – hard to solve. Lots of desperate people in SF. Often narcotics-related (ie, drug addicts opportunistically looking for things to steal and sell).

SFPD highly recommends SFSAFE (673-SAFE) for setting up neighborhood watches and for learning crime-prevention tips.

Lt Struckman thinks Ingleside has the most and best-organized community groups in the city.

Lailah Morris, assistant DA posted at the station, was in attendance. (lailah.morris@sfgov.org)

Question about robberies on Geneva/Mission corridor – but on the back streets. Two officers always posted in that area.

Cell phone kill switch question – you have to call a hotline to get phone disabled, but it is on all new iPhones. For older phones, little cellphone stores will break phones for bad guys so they can re-sell.

Question on new lights for dark streets (often a question in Bernal as well). Very difficult to get new lights installed. PUC owns most lights on major corridors. PG&E owns most lights on residential streets. Supervisor Wiener trying to bring all under city control. For now, your best bet for getting new lights installed is to work with your supervisor and stay after the PG&E Government Relations representative. Surprisingly helpful measure is to have everyone leave on porch lights all night.

Question about Alemany condo complex — even security cameras have been stolen! Constant auto break-ins. One guy was arrested for residential burglaries in that area in Feb – those have dropped. But auto break-ins tend to be opportunistic and committed by people with drug problems.

Question about illegal gambling shacks. Major arrests at Kingston/Mission – working in conjunction with DA and City Atty to shut this and other ones down. Ingleside is kind of pioneering the approach of how to deal with these businesses, which are all over SF now. People running them seem often to be affiliated.

SFPD staffing – After years of retirements and low staffing after the recession, mayor/supervisors are really cranking through academy classes now – promised 3/year but doing 6 this year. Should be back up to full staffing (1971 officers) down the road. Police force is very young right now.

If you have an issue where you need to tell the police about your neighbors, they will work with you to make sure you are not identified as being the person who informed.

Question about Shotwell stairs in Bernal – cameras capturing illegal activity (drug drops, etc).

Question about parks – Officer Hauscarriage (former night watch) is now on parks duty.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Cupid Blamed for Weird Car Crash on Bernal Summit

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Ah, the things we do for love.

You no doubt recall that weird incident earlier this week which saw a car crash into a guard rail near the summit of Bernal Hill beyond the access road gate. And then, of course, the driver of the vehicle declared he was Steve Jobs.

Well it turns out the whole thing was a romantic interlude that went horribly, terribly, insanely, stupidly wrong. So someone at SFPD’ Ingleside station had a lot of fun writing it up in the station’s normally staid crime newsletter:

Incident Date:
Monday, March 16th, 2015

Arrests:
7:20am  Bernal Heights/Anderson Vandalism
The third time was not a charm for two young lovers who wanted to park in a spot with a view of the City. The man and woman decided to consummate their feelings by the Bernal Heights radio tower. However, the road to the tower is protected by a gate thwarting their amorous plans, but only for a short minute. The lovers decided that no gate was going to prevent a wonderful morning so the two, in their Honda Civic, rammed the gate to gain entrance. But the gate didn’t break. So, they backed up and hit the gate a second time and again the gate held tight. The third time, they backed up even farther, and successfully broke open the gate, before speeding up the access road to the top of the hill. All the noise alerted nearby residents and dog walkers who promptly called police. Ingleside Officers Wong and Chang responded and found the couple, and their severely damaged Honda, parked near the radio towers. Both were put in custody and the driver, who didn’t have a valid California license or insurance, was booked for trespassing, vandalism, malicious mischief, and other charges. Report number: 150233507

Further proof: Bernal Heights is for lovers.

PHOTO: Car crashed on Bernal Hill, March 16, 2015, by Neighbor Devon

Vehicle Crashes in Closed Area of Bernal Hill Summit, Suspects Detained

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Reports are just coming in, but Neighbor Devon shared this [strangely beautiful] photo of an automobile crash at the very summit of Bernal Hill this morning, above the barrier gate near Sutrito Tower:

I’m not sure how they got through the barrier. I was near the top and witnessed it from 20ft away on the other side of the barrier. The drivers were speeding up the service road and crashed near the bench. The driver told me not to call the cops, and said he was Steve Jobs. They fled into the cellular tower gate. The suspects were in police custody when I left.

@bernaljournal (who is not the same as the Bernal Journal newspaper) reports that the perps apparently went Dukes of Hazzard through the gate:

This Is Why You Should Never Ever Leave Stuff Inside Your Parked Car

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Ever wonder what one of those guys who smash windows and grab stuff from inside parked cars looks like? Wonder no more, because Neighbor Bud got some crisp security-cam footage of a would-be thief evaluating a potential target on Bocana:

Saturday, March 7th, at 5:40AM, a person with a backpack and a burglar tool came walking down Bocana Street, checking out cars to break into.  Our camera caught him checking out our car in front of our home.  He came from the direction of Powhattan and was headed downhill toward Eugenia.

Here’s the infuriating security camera vid:

Your Bernal Heights Crime Summary for February 2015: Robberies and Assaults Down, Gambling in Crosshairs & When to Call the SFPD

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Neighbor Sarah, your valiant volunteer Bernal Heights crime correspondent, attended the SFPD Ingleside Community meeting this month, and she filed these [excellent, per usual] summary notes on the latest Bernal Heights crime trends.

Read on, be wiser, and stay safer:

I attended [the Feb. 17, 2015] meeting, along with several Bernal neighbors. Here are the notes.

Capt. McFadden (joseph.mcfadden@sfgov.org) presided. New neighborhood DA Lailah Morris was in attendance as well (lailah.morris@sfgov.org).

CRIME TRENDS
SFPD recently arrested four people (two more pending) in string of burglaries in Teresita area – the group was from the Bayview, and police think they committed 30+ burglaries, some in conjunction with a window-installation business. The investigations team at the station put in a ton of hours on this.

Also busted more illegal gambling joints – 3 of the 6 that are on their list. One recent bust found not just gambling machines but also prostitution, drugs, and illegal roosters. [EDIT NOTE: This was before the crackdown on the gambling den at 3437 Mission, so that was not included in the above.]

Robberies and aggravated assaults are down. Auto thefts and thefts from autos continue to be high. Working on tracking down car break-in recidivists and watching them. Made arrests of group of four who had been robbing people on Baden, Circular, & nearby. Still random groups out there operating.

Have had several shootings (back-and-forth retaliation) in the Sunnydale, gang-related (Towerside and DBG). Gang Task Force involved. SFPD believe that when the first guy who was shot recovers, he may attempt more retaliation. Got extra resources from downtown to saturate area with police. Also had a shooting on 28th/Diamond that turned out to be a made-up story – guy claimed drive-by shooting; turned out his friend accidentally shot him at his apartment.

53 felony arrests in January. Already 41 so far in Feb.

HOW TO CONTACT THE SFPD
When you see suspicious activity, call the police! Here are the numbers to know:

  • 911 is for crimes in progress (including property crimes like burglaries or car break-ins).
  • 553-0123 for suspicious behavior. Police still recommend calling
  • 553-8090 from cell phone (when you want 911 so you don’t get routed to CHP in Vallejo)

If there’s a crime trend going on, email the captain with the specifics (his email address is above). Like, if you see groups congregating and drinking/using drugs in a particular area regularly, email him the details (days of week, times of day, exact location). Do NOT just post about this stuff on NextDoor!  Be sure ALSO to call the police.

A community member raised issue of people at Everson/Digby using heroin – is that a 911 call? Captain said yes. Also said sometimes people worry that if they call police, the police will show up at their house, and criminals will know who called. Police do not do this – they know not to “burn” you. “Most important part of any call to the police is the description you give.”

Lunar New Year is here – can make Asian community a target of crime because criminals know they may have cash on them. Spread the word to be alert for danger, keep valuables close, give detailed witness descriptions (shoes or things that cannot change (facial hair, etc) are best things to note).

Door-to-door salesmen and PG&E/Water personnel – ask for an ID or phone number to call so you can see if they are legit. You don’t have to open the door – talk through the door if you feel uncomfortable. If you do talk to them, keep asking questions to see if it trips them up. Get a good description (see above).

Dogs are BEST burglary deterrent. Recordings of dogs = second-best. Alarms/videos = also good. If you have a camera, try to put it on a wide setting – police interested in where people came from (ie, a car) and what direction they headed in when they leave. Have cameras over all doors (front, back, side).

Bayview Station police conducted a raid on Crescent this week  Guy fled to Richland, dropping his gun en route. It is probably in someone’s back yard. If you find it, do NOT touch it – call police so they can safely retrieve it AND try to get fingerprints.

Q&A
Question about CSI: 50-100 burglaries a day in SF overall. CSI has a small team. Tends to mean they’re worse than Comcast in giving you a window for an appt. and then missing it. Fingerprints are hard to come by – only 30% of burglars don’t wear gloves, and only 10% of that 30% will leave a full print. DNA is where things are going – but slow to get there.

Question about phone scams. IRS won’t call you and demand money. Don’t give bank or personal info away over the phone!

Question about traffic enforcement at Bradford/Bernal Heights Blvd. If you have a problem intersection, email the captain with specifics (days, times, etc). This stuff gets lost when captains and officers change (as happens at Ingleside). Keep sending in this info.

Question about dark streets. Scott Wiener is trying to introduce a resolution to have the city take over all PG&E and PUC lights so that they can all be upgraded to LED and centrally managed. Right now it’s kind of a mess.

IMAGE: Telstar Logistics

City Sues to Shutter Bernal Heights Gambling Parlor

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The problem with illegal gambling parlors isn’t just the gambling; it’s the general nuisance and unpleasantness they create. Neighbors in the SFPD’s Ingleside Precinct have been grumbling for many months about a string of illegal gambling parlors along Mission Street. Yesterday, the City moved to shut down one of them, right in the heart of La Lengua, at 3437 Mission, at the corner of Kingston.

The Chronicle has the story:

The Kingston Shack, between Kingston Street and Cortland Avenue, “is an old-school operation, with real slot machines,” said Jennifer Choi, the deputy city attorney handling the case. With no signs outside, “It was like the old speakeasies, where people would knock on the door, someone would look out through a peephole and let you in if they knew you.”

According to the suit, the gambling operation began in 2010. It was busted in 2011, 2013 and again last December, when police confiscated 11 slot machines, Choi said. But since the operators only faced misdemeanor charges and fines for possession of the illegal slot machines, they were soon open for action once again, she said.

“It’s a very lucrative business,” Choi said. “They’re not going to stop.”

It’s also a very dangerous business, both for the patrons and the surrounding neighborhood. Choi said police have documented at least one stabbing inside Kingston Shack, a carjacking outside that led to a high-speed chase through the city, and stolen cars parked outside while the thieves gambled.

The suit names Marlene Cruz, Norma Estrada and John Gregory Ibarra as owners or operators and Lien Sheng Ho and Jian Rong Ma as trustees of the trust that owns the property. If successful, the city’s suit under the state’s Red Light Abatement Act could shutter the property for a year and hit each of the defendants with $25,000 fines and additional civil penalties.

Do You Recognize This Woman Who May Have Burglarized Bernal Homes?

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Neighbor Lizzie shares this sad crime story, which involves a string of home burglaries in Bernal Heights, stolen credit cards, downtown surveillance camera footage of a suspected perpetrator, and frustration with the SFPD. Neighbor Lizzie writes:

Robbery on Winfield on Feb 10, 2015… Here are the details. It is like my own personal version of Serial, the podcast, so keep up:

1. We, along with several neighbors on our block, were robbed on Tuesday last week.

2. Next door neighbors were robbed between 8 and 10am. One awoke to find his phone and wallet missing and went looking outside to see if his girlfriend had them outside. He found the woman in the video below smoking and sitting on his front doorstep. He asked her to borrow her phone and she said she didn’t have one.

3. A neighbor from across our backyard saw a man she assumed to be a contractor messing with the back door. 6+ footish and muscular build. Red to light brown short hair.

4. Many items were removed from our house indicating that they must have been in there meticulously going through everything for quite a while. They took:

- Electronics: android phone, kindle, Mac laptop, HP laptop, bluetooth speaker, etc.
– Personal paperwork: passports, expired ATM cards, wageworks cards, my purse and whatever else might have been in there, check books
– WORST: Jewelry watch for this stuff in pawn shops because I really want it back.
* Paul’s grandfather’s wedding ring. Rectangular setting with larger diamond surrounded by smaller ones.
* Jade bracelet my grandmother gave me from her time in Hong Kong as a navy nurse in WWII. Light jade with gold hinge and clasp.
* Victorian Gold pocket watch my father brought me from his travels. My mother found a long gold chain to go with it. Intricate floral design.
* Notre Dame class ring my father wore his whole life. Gold with blue stone.

5. My bank notified me in the evening that someone was trying to use my ID and cards to make purchases. They gave me locations and times of transactions.

6. Paul went to the shops and retrieved videotape of the person making transactions. As noted above, our neighbor feels she is the same person he found sitting outside his house when he was robbed. Here is the security camera video from the Westfield Mall:

7. The CSI team from the SFPD no-showed three times over 4 days after asking us to stay home from work to meet them before they finally showed up in the 15 minutes I had to go get my child from school. Very annoying and although all the police I’ve talked to are nice, I’m pretty sure they will offer no help in catching the people or finding the remaining treasures from our beloved departed. I get that I wasn’t stabbed, but we have done ALL the legwork.

Takeaways:
1. Bernal is a very hot place for thieves because people with lots of money have moved in.

2. I miss my dog.

3. The Police are nice but can’t get anything done due to internal communication issues. I’ve had great communication from the police who came out to take the report, and the inspector, but they seem to be helpless to communicate with CSI, and when you call Ingleside, they send you to dispatch who send you back to Ingleside in and endless loop.