EXCLUSIVE: NY documentary filmmaker's gear stolen in smash-and-grab robbery in SF's Japantown

"It was crowded and full of people during dinner time... it was probably a bad idea looking back now."
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A documentary filmmaker from New York is sharing his story of being the victim of a smash-and-grab while visiting San Francisco for his latest project.

Frank, who only wants to be identified by his first name was heading to the airport to catch a flight to Taiwan on Tuesday, November 23 when he stopped by Japantown for dinner. He says he parked along Post Street near the Japantown Center Mall feeling it would be a safe area.

"I've heard about it, my friends mentioned it to me before my travel, but having lived in New York the past 13 years I've never had this happen. It was crowded and full of people during dinner time, so I felt good leaving some of the stuff in the trunk. It was probably a bad idea looking back now," says Frank.

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Frank says half-an-hour later he returned to his car and discovered his rear driver's side window was shattered and his film equipment, including hard drives with all of his documentary footage were gone.

Later that day, a Good Samaritan contacted Frank after finding his discarded passport and several other items. The footage that was shot with a prominent Asian female golfer was also backed up, but the camera lenses and about $6,000 in equipment were gone.

Frank filed a police report and says he was told by law enforcement the license plates on the suspect vehicle were probably stolen.

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When asked if this experience has made him think twice about visiting San Francisco again?

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"I've always thought San Francisco is a place I'd go back to every few years. Now, I'm a little disappointed with the experience this time around. I would say I'd still come back, but I'd visit the surroundings, the national parks. They're so great and I love touring Napa and Sonoma County, but I'd really avoid...the city."

He says he wanted to share his story to raise awareness of the ongoing car break-in issue in the city.

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