Serial con man still on San Francisco streets

January 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Fofana Mbemba may be the most prolific petty theft criminal in San Francisco. Police have arrested or made contact with Mbemba more than 50 times. His rap sheet is 12 pages long.

Almost every time he's arrested, he spends a short time in jail. Then, he's back on the streets doing what he does best. Mbemba goes to unattended parking lots with pay stations along the Embarcadero. He poses as an attendant and collects money from drivers as they pull in. Even worse for drivers, they often wind up with a ticket on their windshield from parking monitors who check the lots.

In the summer of 2011, Mbemba was caught on a KGO-TV security camera as parking attendants grabbed him while he pretended to be one of them. Again, he was arrested but back on the streets just a few days later.

"This type of activity is absolutely unacceptable. It's criminal and it needs to stop," said Supervisor David Chiu's. His district includes the Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf. He's worried that Mbemba and other imposters will prey on the millions who'll come to the city later this year for the America's Cup.

"We are talking to the port and the city attorney's office, as well as with law enforcement, to figure out if there are ways for us to both improve on our enforcement but as well increase local penalties for this type of activity," Chiu said.

But the D.A.'s Office told ABC7 News they've prosecuted Mbemba and other con men aggressively but that the reality is these are non-violent misdemeanors and there's only so much they can do legally.

District Attorney George Gascon says parking operators should increase security. They should put an attendant on the lot or like many other parking lots, put in an electronic gate, he said.

Parking operators say there are signs at the unattended lots warning drivers and that more security would be ineffective.

The president of Priority Parking, which has 27 lots in the city, said in a statement: "The D.A. is making it sound as if this is a business issue when, if you look at the rap sheet of the prime suspect, it is clearly a lack of effective prosecution."

Mbemba was arrested again November 17. Chances are it won't be his last arrest.


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