SF Whole Foods garage break-in video goes viral in Indonesia; experts fear long-lasting consequences

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Friday, April 21, 2023
Concerns raised after SF break-in video goes viral in Indonesia
Video of tourists getting their car broken into at a Whole Foods in SF went viral in Indonesia. We highlight concerns of long-lasting consequences.

SAN FRANCISO (KGO) -- Video of tourists getting their car broken into at a San Francisco Whole Foods has gone viral with millions of views in Indonesia. It's now creating fears from some that the consequences from an economic standpoint could be long-lasting.

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Indonesian tourist Fika Puspitasari considers herself and her friends savvy travelers. A group over about a dozen of them recently took a nine-day road trip of the West Coast, starting and ending in her dream destination of San Francisco.

"When I was in middle school, I watched (the) TV serial, 'Full House,' you know?" Said Puspitasari, smiling at the memory and explaining that "Full House" is a show her children watch today.

As their travels brought them through Route 66, the Grand Canyon, and Southern California, some warned her group about crimes in San Francisco.

"The car rental office already told us to be careful," she said. "Including a hotel person in LA."

On April 8, the day before their flight back to Indonesia, part of their group went to the Whole Foods along California and Franklin Streets to break their Ramadan fast. When they returned to their rental car to retrieve a forgotten cellphone, they were greeted by two masked and hooded individuals, breaking into their vehicle.

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"Suddenly, my friend named Harry yelled, 'Hey, don't do that!'" says Puspitasari, who then described the moment her friend understood how he put himself in danger.

"He suddenly realized, and lied down on the floor because the robber points a gun at him," she said.

Several friends hid and recorded video of the incident, which has since gone viral in Indonesia. Just two social media posts on Twitter and TikTok have received more than 5 million views.

The viral nature of the incident was part of what prompted an alert from the Indonesian Consulate in San Francisco. Days later on Instagram, they posted instructions on what to do if you're attacked, broken into, or robbed. The consulate also issued alerts for other major cities. But the difference is the threat of property crimes.

"Because SF has highest car break-in compared to other cities, this warning has become more frequent," said Mahmudin Nu Al-Gozaly, Consul for Information & Social-Cultural Affairs for the Indonesian Consulate of San Francisco.

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It's something that worries Darlene Chiu Bryant, head of Global SF, which identifies and attracts foreign investment to come to the Bay Area.

She says just one viral video can have a major impact on the people of Indonesia and and Southeast Asia. And it can have lasting consequences for San Francisco.

"If they're (the Indonesian people) making a lot more money now, increasing in terms of income and personal wealth, they will send their children overseas for college or high school," she said. "If they don't feel safe sending their kids to San Francisco, it's a loss of revenue for the universities there and the other income that comes along with visits and tourism."

She adds, "What I see is the investment always follows the children, because children come and they study. They make an investment the family follows and everything else."

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Despite the trauma, Puspitasari's friends are grateful their passports weren't taken and they were able to make it home.

When asked if she would like to come back to the City by the Bay again sometime, she says with a laugh, "Maybe not San Francisco. Maybe need some time. Come back to America for other states, maybe."

She and her friends thank the customers who helped them call 911. SFPD say there have been no arrests and ask anyone with information to call their tip line.

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