SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The city of San Francisco is reporting a win this holiday season with a decrease in citywide theft and an increase in visitors.
According to city data, the Union Square Alliance estimates a financial boost in the tens of millions of dollars during the holidays. They attribute that financial increase to police presence.
"Fourty-eight-percent reduction during the holidays in theft and this is greatly contributed by the fact that we had officers present in and around Union Square - other retail areas around Market Street," said SFPD Assistant Chief David Lazar.
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According to the city between Nov. 20, 2023 and Jan. 1, 2024 compared to the same period in 2022, San Francisco saw a 48% reduction in larceny theft (includes retail theft and auto break-ins), 17% reduction in motor vehicle theft and a 26% reduction in burglaries.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed views these numbers as progress from years past.
In 2021, thieves targeted Union Square and stole close to $300,000 worth of merchandised. Two years later, a different story.
"My hope is that moment will carry us through for the rest of 2024 and continue because this is exactly what San Francisco is about and what will continue to be about," said Mayor Breed.
According to the mayor's office, Union Square saw an 11% increase in unique daily visitors.
"The holidays were absolutely magic this year, we were really excited. It felt like years past. You really saw people coming from all over the greater Bay Area, Central Valley," said Marisa Rodriguez, CEO of the Union Square Alliance.
The executive chef at Sears Fine Food noticed the change.
"The last year compared to this year, maybe 20% up," said Felipe Padilla, Chef at Sears Fine Food.
Union Square Alliance Security guards were on foot throughout the holidays.
"It was calm. It was peaceful," said security guard Michael Lewis.
"This year, there was no crime," said secure guard Jashipt Singh.
The enhanced SFPD presence won't be at Union Square forever.
"It won't be like it was during the holiday season because we know there was an uptick in the number of shoppers but there will still be significant presence," said Mayor Breed.
We asked SFPD Assistant Chief David Lazar about this. He said the department has been running operations with officers outside of stores and arresting thieves and despite being 500 officers short they are feeling confident.
"We actually had 40 blitz operations in the last two years resulting in about 300 arrests, so we are going to push forward into 2024 continuing to do that work but it's also using technology we are suing live surveillance monitoring," said Assistant Chief Lazar.
Our ABC7 News data team double checked the city's data and the numbers are accurate.
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