Security cut at half the major parking garages in SF amid uptick in car break-ins

The move comes at a time car break-ins are climbing back to record-high levels reported pre-pandemic.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In an effort to cut costs, San Francisco is temporarily cutting security services in half of its high-volume parking garages.

The move comes at a time car break-ins are climbing back to record-high levels reported pre-pandemic.

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"The city is trying to save money, that's the bottom line," said Howard Boyer, a security officer for the 5th and Mission parking garage in San Francisco.

Which garages no longer have security services?

Here are the garage locations where security services have been cut:

In the last week, Boyer has witnessed nearly a dozen attempted car break-ins at 5th and Mission.

It even happened minutes before our interview.

Boyer: "See that guy right behind us?"


Boyer: "I removed him from the second floor. He was screaming and hollering and was walking by the cars real close, he hasn't left."

With summer right around the corner, Boyer knows it may only get worse.

"It's a scary thought, it really is," said Delphine Skreen, Director of Operations for Marina Security Services. The company's contracts have temporarily been cut at half of the city-owned parking garages in Union Square, Tenderloin, SOMA, Financial District, Civic Center, Japantown, and the Marina District.

"We're seeing a higher number of assaults, vehicle break-ins, destruction of property, problems with homeless, and drug abuse," said Skreen. "I'm surprised we've reduced the level of security in these locations."

Crime statistics

According to data compiled by the San Francisco Police Department as of March, burglary crimes have increased 51-percent from last year. Auto thefts have increased 18-percent.

3,316 car break-ins were reported from January to March of this year, a slight decrease from pre-pandemic totals. But, it may not stay that way with California's economy set to fully reopen in a month.

"It seems like an odd time for the city to cut back on security," Boyer said. "Tourists will be coming back.

SFMTA responds

The ABC7 I-Team reached out to SFMTA for further comment and received the following statement:

"Security isn't being replaced, but currently the responsibility has shifted to other staff who maintain our parking facilities," SFMTA told ABC7.

"Out of necessity, we need to prioritize the staff that provide the most wide-ranging services to our garages. Parking at any of our 22 city-owned facilities is safer than ever."

SFMTA also added they've recently completed a Parking Access Revenue and Control System (PARCS) to replace aging parking equipment with modern technology.

"Our patrons will notice enhanced lighting, new wayfinding signs, audible alarms, cameras, gate arms, and payment machines with two-way digital intercoms. Additionally, behind the scenes is an all-new parking management system and 24/7 command center, connected to every machine," the agency wrote.

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David Chandler, President of CALSAGA, the state's Association of Licensed Security Agencies says that won't be good enough.

"Automation and cameras are great to see what happened to your property, but not to be there to prevent it," said Chandler.

Stephanie: "What would you say to people who argue parking attendants can do the same job?"

David: "It's all in the training. The parking attendants don't have the required training or observational skills."

According to Chandler, security officers in the state of California require extensive training that spans six months involving education on powers to arrest, weapons of mass destruction, studying behaviors, trespassing, and evacuation procedures.

"There's a lot that goes into it," Boyer said staring at the man across the street he escorted out of the garage. "People will watch you leave and come right back."

The city told ABC7 the decision to cut security is only temporary - but will be in effect until further notice.

"Just stay alert and don't leave anything in your car."

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