San Francisco safety monitor helps stop suspected phone thief

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A quick-thinking city safety monitor helped stop a suspected thief in the middle of San Francisco's crowded UN Plaza.

He got a big "thank you" from a woman who had her phone stolen, and quickly returned. We're also learning more about the non-profit organization that is helping to build a better Bay Area.

In a cell phone video clip, a woman is seen thanking Dewayne Kemp for stepping in and getting her new iPhone 11 back from a suspected thief.

Most everyone between UN Plaza and Civic Center knows Kemp. He's a "practitioner" working for Urban Alchemy, a city contracted non-profit offering safety and service to the community.

"To me, what practitioner means is a good citizen," said Kemp.

Friday night, he helped catch a suspected thief.

"I heard a woman screaming as she was running after a guy, she said 'stop that guy, He took my phone!'" said Kemp.

Kemp saw the suspect running towards him.

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"I said to him, 'give her back her phone. He said what? Give her back her phone.' He reached in his pocket and gave her back the phone," Kemp added.

The man got away but minutes later, the woman who said she just got the phone as a gift, was overcome with gratitude.

Dewayne Kemp's boss Louie Hammonds says Dewayne's back story is almost as amazing as his act of bravery. He's an ex-con who's turning his life around, thanks to Urban Alchemy, which is putting former long-term offenders to work. The ancient word alchemy means turning metal into gold.

"Instead of turning things into gold, we try making spaces better," said Louie Hammonds.

Urban Alchemy is partnering with the SFPD. A city spokesperson says since practitioners have been visible, drug use and crime have decreased around Civic Center.

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