SF business owner hands out 'do not break into this car' signs to protect customers

Luz Pena Image
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Fed up SF business owner hands out 'do not break into this car' signs
San Francisco bike rental shop Blazing Saddles is not only giving bike tours for tourists, but also preventing their cars from getting broken into.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There is a common sense of frustration by business owners and residents at Fisherman's Wharf.

Thursday, we introduced you to Boots.

"The criminals are getting to know us. I wouldn't call it an organized anything. It's just concerned citizens," said Boots.

Boots is a San Francisco business owner at Fisherman's Wharf who walks around the neighborhood with a ski mask and a non-lethal weapon that looks like a gun.

EXCLUSIVE: SF business owner patrols neighborhood with imitation gun, ski mask to scare off thieves

Armed with an imitation gun and a ski mask, one San Francisco business owner has taken it upon himself to protect his neighborhood from thieves.

His goal is to scare off thieves from breaking into cars. Friday, we went back to dig deeper into this issue and found another business owner taking matters into his own hands.

"It's just a really bad situation and we need help," said Jeff Sears, owner of Blazing Saddles bike rentals and tours.

Inside Blazing Saddles, Jeff and his team have a standard welcome line at this point.

"We open with, 'Hey welcome guys. Ready to bike the bridge? Also, where did you park your car? Is it on the street? You need to bring your valuables inside,'" said Sean Sears with Blazing Saddles bike rentals and tours.

They are not only renting bikes, but also preventing car break-ins.

INTERACTIVE: Take a look at the ABC7 Neighborhood Safety Tracker

Luz Pena: "You have a very peculiar job here."

Sean Sears: "Yes, I do. Among many things I give out, these signs to our customers," said Sears and added, "The sign says, 'Please do not break into this car. There are no valuables inside. Your mother and grandmother would be very disappointed in you."'

If that wasn't enough, they even offer free storage to their customers.

"We have them bring them in. They put them in our lockers," said Sears.

We also found stickers on parking meters that read "Car break in area." We met a family visiting from China who saw the sticker and hid their bags.

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"I put this inside trying to hide," said Liu Liang.

We tracked down Randall Scott with Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District - he's the one behind the stickers. Randall and his team area also responsible for the signs throughout the Wharf. They've been doing this for years.

"We also have an overnight patrol that tries to keep the streets as safe as possible," said Scott.

According to SFPD incident reports, thefts from vehicles have been increasing across the city but not back to pre-pandemic levels.

However in the Central Police District where tourist areas like Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown and Downtown are located - there were about 1,000 more incidents reported in 2022 than in 2019.

I-TEAM EXCLUSIVE: Fencing operation video shows what happens after car break-ins

We're getting a firsthand look at a fencing operation for stolen goods, showing what happens after all car break-ins we've seen across the Bay Area.

In this district in 2022, there were about 19 vehicle thefts on average every day. Randall says he understands business owners like Boots.

"I completely understand why he is doing it. I didn't ask for permission to put the signage I just did it. We just did it but that's a non-invasive non-vigilante way of doing it," said Scott.

According to Scott there's been a 10 percent decrease in foot traffic compared to 2019. Crime and recovering from the pandemic are some of the factors.

SFPD said they are 570 officers short and are unable to have foot patrols in the area at all times.

The Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District says they are doing what they can to re-energize the area.

Recently, they got $2.2 million from the Port. They are using those funds to have live music and pop up restaurants every Friday from July 14 until the end of September.

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