SF parking lots: A thief's gold mine

May 6, 2008 7:30:19 PM PDT
There's a growing crime problem in San Francisco you need to know about, whether you live, work, or just visit the city. They are called "smash-and-grab" robberies and it's one thing you don't want to see when you get back to your car ? broken glass.

Bay Area resident Gregg Debeck has been a victim numerous times.

"Our new truck once. My old truck twice," says Debeck when talking about previous break ins.

He doesn't even hide his satellite radio anymore.

"What's the use?"

What people are looking for now is the suction cup marks on your windshield. That's where you mount your GPS. And they figure, if you take it off, all you've done is hide it in your glove compartment.

Even Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is not exempt. Recently, someone broke into his jeep.

"Yeah, and so were other cars in the vicinity. It looked like somebody was rifling through," says Mirkarimi.

Nowadays, those who replace car windows are doing a booming business. Valorie Larkins says in the past, her customers appeared to be randomly picked, but not now.

"Now, sometimes they're telling us it's the whole block. They knock out six cars in one apartment complex or the whole block or every other car in the street or whatever so."

We checked cars on one block to see if drivers left valuables in their car.

We saw a cars exposing something that looks like a purse, an electronic device and a bag filled with something.

Police Chief Heather Fong says the robbers are now even taking advance orders from fences.

"In some case, we've also been told that some of these items have already been ordered so people are going out there, " says Fong.

District Attorney Kamala Harris says most robbers are repeat offenders. You catch one, you stop other robberies.

"So, when we're able to catch and prosecute one, we usually believe, even if we can't prove every other crime, they've committed other crimes."

Harris says she's prosecuting 34 percent more robberies than a year ago and that includes thefts from cars.


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