SFPD cracking down on metal thieves at city parks


Crocker-Amazon Park is a soccer player's dream come true with several well-groomed fields to play on. During the day, it's full of kids but recently, odd things have been happening there at night and in the early morning hours when the park is empty. Supervisor John Avalos represents the Crocker-Amazon District. "In terms of parks in my districts, it's the worst that I've heard where you actually have a functional play field and people are actually taking parts of it away," he told ABC7 News.

For example, the braces that support some of the aluminum bleachers are gone, stolen, but the ones on the other side of the park, closest to Geneva Avenue, are still there. And two weeks ago, an early morning park crew found three dismantled soccer goals on the ground. They were presumably going to be picked up later by the thieves. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department reassembled the three soccer goals and this time, they put epoxy glue on the nuts and bolts making it harder for the thieves to undo them.

People in the community who value the park are upset. "That's really bad. Honestly, because all this stuff right here is for the community and I live a couple blocks away, and used to work over in Geneva, and this place used to be really horrible," neighbor J.R. Baclan told ABC7 News.

This has been an ongoing problem. Last fall, the aluminum bleachers on the football field were stolen. Only a few still remain. The price of recycled aluminum is only about 80 cents a pound, not that much when compared to what it's costing San Francisco to replace them. "That's staff time, materials, and supplies that could be used for so much more positive things," says Phil Ginsburg with San Francisco Recreation and Parks.

San Francisco spends about $300,000 a year fixing and replacing things damaged or stolen from its parks. The board of supervisors is expected to add $450,000 to the Rec and Parks budget. Some of the money will go to hire three more park patrol officers. They now have only 12 for all 220 parks. "And what that will functionally mean, is we will be able to have some additional coverage at night," Ginsburg said.

Even then, Ginsburg admits it's impossible to patrol every single park in San Francisco. Police do regularly patrol the park, but they would like the public to help keep a watchful eye.

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