New figures show drop in SF crime

September 3, 2009 8:05:37 PM PDT
The number of murders in San Francisco has dropped dramatically since last year. New crime figures just released show big drops in other major crimes as well.

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San Francisco police say there has not been a murder in the Mission District since last October. That is when 28 members of the notoriously violent MS-13 gang were arrested in a federal undercover operation called Devils Horn.

In fact, homicides have also dropped dramatically in the rest of the city.

From January to the end of August last year, there were 67 murders. This year, 33 -- a drop of just more than 50 percent.

Police say they often know who the killers are but do not have the evidence to prove it. So, they target them for other crimes.

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"We'll catch them with guns, we catch them with dope and send them to jail for that; we just take them off the street and that's what's keeping the homicide rate down," Lieutenant Jim Miller of the SFPD Field Operation Bureau said.

San Francisco's dismal record of solving homicides has also improved.

For the first seven months of last year, investigators solved only 34 percent of the murders. In the same period this year, they cleared about half of all homicides.

Homicide Lieutenant Mike Stasko says one big reason is that witnesses are coming forward.

"People now have gotten maybe a little better feel for the police department and they're actually contacting, talking to us more," Stasko said.

Shooting incidents in the city are down by about 40 percent. There are also fewer rapes, robberies and violent assaults.

Miller says the reason for the big decrease in robberies is the creation of a specialized unit.

"We have two squads of robbery abatement officers that are undercover plainclothes officers that do surveillance on the street just to look for robbery suspects," Miller said.

Auto burglaries -- the so-called "smash and grabs" are also down dramatically by almost one-third from last year.

Police say since most of those arrested are drug addicts; they believe the crackdown on the drug trade has something to do with it.

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