After 15,000 car break-ins so far in 2023, SF leaders brainstorm ways to end epidemic

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Friday, September 22, 2023
SF leaders brainstorm ways to end the car break-in epidemic
Nine and a half months into 2023, and San Francisco police say there have been more than 15,000 car break-ins reported this year.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco leaders are uniting to combat the car break-in epidemic, and their plan involves more warning signs.

Supervisor Dean Preston sponsored a hearing on Thursday which brought together police and several other departments across the city.

Nine and a half months into 2023, and San Francisco police say there have been more than 15,000 car break-ins reported this year.

That number is down by about 500 at this time last year.

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A San Francisco tourist's car was burglarized near the Palace of Fine Arts, just near where police announced new tact to crack down on car break-ins.

"We want people to be able to come to San Francisco and not have to worry about this but that ain't going to happen overnight," Preston said.

Preston is calling for a coordinated response across all city departments to cut down those numbers.

"In my opinion, the path to reducing car break-ins cannot rely on any one strategy to the exclusion of others," he said.

San Francisco Police say they're making progress on a daily basis, with 37 arrests made so far this year in relation to auto break-ins.

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This, on top of adding more officers in neighborhoods where break-ins are happening, even using "bait cars" to catch thieves.

"I think that it shows the good work that we're doing, based on the challenging things that we're dealing with as far as apprehending some of these suspects," Commander Derrick Jackson with SFPD said.

Challenges, like the current policy of not allowing pretext stops.

"Things like pulling over cars for no plates, for tinted windows," Jackson said.

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SFMTA says they're working on a pilot program to update parking meters city-wide with digital warnings on meters and on the pay-by-phone app to not leave any valuables in your car.

Preston wants to see an upgrade to the city's "Park Smart" program, which has similar warning signs up around the city, only in text, and only in English.

But San Francisco Mayor London Breed says it needs to be more than that

"It's not just Park Smart. It's everything, it's awareness, it's ambassadors, it's police, it's arrests, it's accountability. It's not just one thing to deal with this real epidemic, not just here in San Francisco but all over the Bay Area," Breed said.

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Some believe just having the conversation is a positive step forward.

"I feel very buoyed just to hear that attention is even being paid to the issue," said Andrea Carla Michaels, founder of

Michaels, the woman behind, reunites people, frequently tourists, with their lost belongings after smash and grabs.

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"It's one minute to shatter someone's vacation and dreams," she said.

She's happy to see more attention on the problem, but believes there's a long way to go.

SFPD says officers are also working to break apart the groups who commit these break-ins, because a single group could be responsible for dozens of break-ins in one day alone.

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