San Francisco sees 40% jump in residential burglaries

It's a classic good-news-bad-news situation.

Auto break-ins are down in San Francisco.

But home burglaries are way up, including "hot prowl" burglaries when residents are present.

"There are more people home now with COVID," said San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar, whose District 4 includes the Sunset, Outer Sunset, and Parkside neighborhoods. "This increase in burglaries is happening across the city in all the districts so it's an area of concern." 

For years, tourists and their rental cars have been plum targets.

But the pandemic has driven tourism away.

So it appears thieves are targeting homes and businesses instead. 

This year, there have been almost 5,000 burglaries, an average jump of almost 40 percent over the same period last year.

In some districts, it's worse.

The Richmond District, up 50 %. Pacific Heights, the Marina, Cow Hollow, and North Beach, up 59%. The Mission District, up a whopping 79%.

"You know, I'll make sure that my garage door is locked but I'm not sure there's much I can do beyond that," said a Richmond District resident, who had not heard of the uptick.

Mar pointed to three businesses on Taraval Street - a bakery, cafe, and dessert shop- all hit on the same night last week.

They were broken into in the early morning hours and stripped of cash.

He's hearing about home burglaries too. 

"People have been breaking into garages and stealing their bicycles and other things from their home," said Mar, "and they certainly feel shocked and angry and scared."

A mom in Presidio Heights described her recent 3 a.m. experience.

"I heard somebody that sounded like kicking the door in and I opened my curtains and looked down," said Venus Savage. "And I saw there was a car double-parked at the door and when he saw me he drove away."  

As home and commercial burglaries rise, auto break-ins, always rampant in San Francisco, have plummeted by about one-third compared to the first nine months of last year.

Fewer tourists means fewer targets.

But in shifting to new crime opportunities, thieves are becoming more bold.

So-called hot prowl burglaries, happening when someone is home, jumped 60%.

"That's really frightening right, I'm at home with my kids, said Karla Marin, a 12-year resident of the Richmond District is surprised to hear burglars using garage doors or back doors to get into homes and steal as residents sleep.

"It's your biggest nightmare, as a woman, and hard to think of anything more scary than someone breaking into your house while you're in it," said Martin.

Any break-in is a violation and shakes one's sense of security.

Police are trying to keep up with the surge, but int he meantime residents adapt their habits.

"I feel like the neighborhood has gotten a lot less safe during the lockdown, especially at night," said Martin, "so I just try to stay indoors as much as I can."