San Francisco police, in coordination with University of California and federal authorities, collaborated in an operation to stop recent burglaries at the shipyard, where tools, wires, pipes and other equipment had been stolen, then later recycled for cash.
Investigators believed the thieves were using boats to enter nearby Islais Creek, and began surveillance on the creek around 8 p.m. Sunday, police said.
Around 3 a.m. Monday, officers spotted a vessel with three people aboard approach the boat dock along the shipyard's eastern seawall, where two males got out and climbed up the wall, then walked toward a building carrying flashlights, according to police.
The suspects tried to open a window, then walked around to the side of the building, where they allegedly kicked in a door. A few minutes later, officers heard loud sounds of grinding by power tools, and saw light flashing inside the building, police said.
At about 4 a.m., the two suspects walked out with several large pipe valves and were immediately confronted by the officers. The pair ran away, but one was quickly taken into custody after trying to hide in a nearby brush pile, according to police.
The second suspect ran toward the shore, threw the items he was carrying into the water, then turned and faced the officer. The officer ordered the suspect to show his hands, but he instead reached for his waistband, prompting the officer to pepper-spray him, police said.
The suspect then jumped into the water and began to swim. The officer ran to the suspects' boat and apprehended the swimming suspect as he tried to climb on board. The third suspect, a female, was found in the cabin of the boat and taken into custody, according to police.
The officers recovered the metal stolen from the building, and seized several burglary tools on the boat.
The three suspects were booked into county jail on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy and possession of stolen property, police said. Police had not yet released their names as of early this afternoon.
Anyone with information about burglaries at the shipyard is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.