EXCLUSIVE: Presumed thief leaves flyers on SF cars asking for money so they can stop 'stealing'

Luz Pena Image
Saturday, August 13, 2022
EXCLUSIVE: Presumed SF thief resorts to extortion to stop 'stealing'
Car break-ins in San Francisco aren't new but now presumed thieves are leaving notes on cars giving people two options: pay... or risk theft.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Car break-ins in San Francisco aren't new but now presumed thieves are leaving notes on cars giving people two options: pay... or risk theft.

And now a woman who found the flyer on her windshield a month ago is coming forward to alert others.

"I was actually a little scared, a little rattled. I didn't know if they were going to come back to break into my car or anyone else's car," said Marcia Saephan.

The flyer says "I don't want to steal anymore! But I still have bills to pay. Can you help me please?" The person goes on to list three modern ways that you can pay them. Via Cash app, Bitcoin and PayPal.

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Luz Pena: "Were you afraid that if you didn't pay that you were going to get your car broken into?"

Marcia Saephan: "Yeah. Absolutely. It was something I had to consider every time I came to work and adjust the way I park and where I parked. It did affect me and it still does."

Saephan looked around and noticed multiple cars had the same flyer. She says car break-ins around the area happen frequently, especially during the holidays. Even though she decided not to pay her co-worker who also got the flyer did send money.

"I felt extorted in some ways. Like if I didn't give them any money are they going to come back?" said Saephan.

ABC7 News showed the flyer to a cybersecurity expert who said this type of crime involving crypto and apps is in some cases hard to trace.

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"Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency based on a blockchain. So, while it's impossible to know who is behind a specific wallet you can still follow traces and see which transactions reached which wallet," said Etay Maor, Sr. Director of Security Strategy at Cato Networks.

ABC7 News also contacted PayPal who said:

"Any illegal behavior is a direct violation of the PayPal User Agreement, and any violations of this nature will result in an account being terminated as well as potentially being referred to law enforcement."

We took the flyer to SFPD who said this is the first time they have seen this criminal approach but confirmed San Francisco is experiencing an uptick in auto burglaries.

"The uptick at this point compared to last year which are auto burglaries as well as larceny or thefts that are occurring in any retail establishment to theft out of a person are 16% higher compared to last year," said Officer Rober Rueca.

Silver lining? The person behind the flyer has manners and signed the flyer with a "thank you."

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"It's ridiculous. They are getting very creative," said Saephan.

After investigating this account ABC7 News can confirm that PayPal is taking action to terminate this person's account.

SFPD said they haven't confirmed if the person behind the flyer is in fact a suspect of any crime and urged people not to send money.

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