EXCLUSIVE: Video shows contractor stealing from vacant SF luxury apartment

While residents are away due to flooding, contractors hired by the building were caught on camera entering the homes, taking items

Luz Pena Image
ByLuz Pena via KGO logo
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

Residents of a San Francisco's 33 Tehama that has flooded twice since June are reporting theft and people going inside their vacant apartments.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Residents of a San Francisco building that has flooded twice since June are reporting theft and people going inside their vacant apartments.

On June 10, at 2:27 a.m., Kate Sutherland received a notification. A person had been detected inside her vacant apartment at 33 Tehama.

"Opened the video and I saw a random person just wandering through my unit and taking a video on flash. It sent chills down my spine," said Sutherland.

The eerie video caught what looked like a person moving slowly in the dark. The building had been vacant for several days after a water main broke and flooded the building. Kate ended her lease four days after this video was recorded.

RELATED: Residents at SF luxury apartment displaced after pipe bursts, flooding all 35 floors

Luz Pena: "How did they explain what happened?"

Kate Sutherland: "They really know how to explain it. They just kept saying that it was unauthorized."

Kate's story is the tip of the iceberg. This week another resident captured a contractor using the bathroom inside one of the apartments and taking something on their way out. Hines, the real estate company that owns the building, confirmed the theft that took place Monday, saying in part:

"A contractor who was making repairs in one of the units at 33 Tehama was recorded taking items from the unit. This contractor was terminated immediately."

In Stephanie Sunwoo's case, thousands of dollars went missing from her bank account this morning.

"Two fraudulent checks cashed in my account. My bank account both in the amount of over $1,500 each," said Stephanie Sunwoo, 33 Tehama resident.

RELATED: Residents at flooded San Francisco luxury building may not be able to return home until 2023

Sunwoo says her entire checkbook is inside her nightstand in her vacant apartment.

"It is really alarming to think that somebody is rummaging through my bedroom through my nightstand, grabs a box full of my checkbooks and now I have deep fears of identity theft," said Sunwoo.

Residents are also reporting theft in the bike room.

"Our bike room was completely looted. There are remains of people's bikes. Some people's bikes are completely missing," said Sunwoo.

Regarding theft, Hines said in part:

"While we haven't confirmed the validity of these allegations yet, we have temporarily removed all contractor access to resident units while we work on a solution to increase security measures."

RELATED: Residents report 2nd water leak, presumed theft at luxury SF apartments

And for residents like Maarya Abbasi, these reports make them want to get all of their belongings out of the building fast. She says Hines is making it difficult.

"It just feels like the nightmare that never ends," said Maarya Abbasi.

Hines is not allowing residents inside the building and is only letting them use movers assigned by Hines.

"That is something I also asked Tehama 'What is the recourse if our belongings get damaged?' All I was told was is that we would have to work through our own renters insurance," said Abbasi.

Hines said they are providing locked storage pods to residents who have scheduled move-outs through the end of the month.

As to bikes getting stolen, they said they don't know if any bikes have been stolen, but said a large number of bikes were abandoned.

RELATED: New 'catastrophic' details reveal what went wrong inside flooded luxury SF apartment building

We also followed up and asked about the resident who said her checkbook was stolen and they said that's a police matter.

Statement from Hines about 33 Tehama - August 16, 2022

"It has come to our attention that on August 15, 2022, a contractor who was making repairs in one of the units at 33 Tehama was recorded taking items from the unit. This contractor was terminated immediately. All construction workers at 33 Tehama are licensed, bonded, and insured, and are employees of reputable subcontractors. We have security on the premises 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the safekeeping of our residents' belongings is our utmost priority.

There are very few allegations of other issues with security in the units. While we haven't confirmed the validity of these allegations yet, we have temporarily removed all contractor access to resident units while we work on a solution to increase security measures. At a minimum, these measures will include a comprehensive video monitoring system to capture footage while contractors are in residents' units to safeguard their property in an active construction site.

When we learned that the timeline for reoccupation of 33 Tehama would extend into 2023 and notified residents that they would need to find alternate accommodations, we began working with city officials and local building ownership to secure housing for our most vulnerable residents, which include residents in the 60 below market rate (BMR) units at 33 Tehama. We have had success with the city who responded promptly to the request. We continue to work with local building owners to identify housing solutions for these residents. We are hopeful that San Francisco building owners with vacant BMR units will agree to support these 33 Tehama residents at this time by offering them housing.

Given that the financial and accommodation support for 33 Tehama residents ends tomorrow August 17, we have extended the financial and hotel accommodation support to tenants who meet certain income qualifications until August 31. This is to ensure that they have the resources to secure temporary housing while we continue to work closely with building ownership and in partnership with Supervisor Dorsey and other government officials to find a longer-term solution. "

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live