Proposal would reimburse San Francisco car break-in victims for shattered windows

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's district attorney is proposing a new idea that could possibly be a first-of-its-kind in the country: reimbursing victims of car break-ins for the cost of their broken glass.

"I am hoping to put victims first. We know that San Francisco has a serious auto burglary problem. Unfortunately we know that we are not able to arrest and prosecute everyone who commits auto burglary in San Francisco. What we can do, what we are asking the city to help us do, is to put victims first," said District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

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According to the DA's Office, between 2018-2019, there were approximately 17,819 auto burglary cases reported to SFPD by San Francisco residents.

He says approximately 8,910 city residents are victims each year of car burglary, Boudin said.

This money would pay for their windows and for employees to process the claims.

Hank Wee, Shop manager at In & Out Auto Glass off Bayshore Boulevard, says 70% of the cars they service every day is from car break-ins.

"We average about 30 cars a day, so about 20 of them are smash and grabs," Wee said.

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San Francisco's district attorney is proposing reimbursing victims of car break-ins for the cost of their broken glass.



Wee says the shop sometimes sees the same customers multiple times in one week. "I have customers come back-to-back days and they leave nothing in their car. One came back yesterday. We repaired his window two days ago and he came back yesterday with the same exact window broken," Wee said.

He's wondering who's going to be responsible for funding this new budget.

"If it comes to tax payers living in the city, what difference would it for them to just pay for the window themselves than pay for another department to cut down on these type of things?" Wee said.

"The San Francisco Police Department makes arrests in approximately 1% of auto burglaries that occur in San Francisco," Boudin said.

He said its obvious police have resource challenges but it's not enough to wait for them to make arrests.

RELATED: San Francisco residents pleading with thieves to spare their vehicles

"We need to also simultaneously heal the harm that it's causing," Boudin said.

One resident, whose car has been broken into twice, liked the idea.

"Oh wow. That's actually pretty good. It's going to be a lot actually. The first time it cost be $500 and then the second time was close to it. Yeah. Out of my pocket," said Raul Cabrera of San Francisco.

This would only apply to San Francisco residents, not to tourists or rental car companies.
"I would love to support all victims of crime in San Francisco and we are going to start with a pilot program that puts San Francisco residents first and we'll build it out from there," Boudin said.

He says he has not heard of this happening in any other cities or counties in the country.

This is a proposal. If it passes, he says it could go into effect this June.

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