By Trevor Schakohl
Small business owners in San Francisco are sounding the alarm over rampant burglaries amid an ongoing police staffing shortage, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Reported burglary incidents fell in San Francisco by about 18.1% in 2022 compared to 2021, but reported robbery and larceny theft incidents increased by roughly 5.5% and 11.7% respectively, contributing to a 5.9% overall surge in reported serious crime incidents, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) data shows. Some local business owners told the Chronicle their establishments have been broken into several times, and SFPD spokesperson Adam Lobsinger said the department’s burglary unit has been impacted by a wider staffing crisis.
Police reported in mid-January that 267 of the SFPD funded positions were unfilled, and City Supervisor Matt Dorsey claimed days later that only 1,537 of SFPD’s around 1,923 sworn officers were currently full-duty, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Pork Gulch neighborhood beauty spa owner Josie Li said thieves broke into her establishment for the fourth time in a year in January, stealing electronics, cash and makeup, the Chronicle reported. She called the situation “Kind of ridiculous,” saying, “My insurance thinks I’m lying.”
San Francisco landscaping company owner Suzanne Mendoza told the outlet she has had to change her locks numerous times due to a litany of burglaries she estimated had cost more than $100,000 combined.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we want to close the business,” Mendoza said. “We’re trying to work our way up, support our family, pay our bills, and we can’t. It makes it 10 times harder, 100 times harder.”
San Francisco voters ousted former District Attorney Chesa Boudin from office in a June recall election, with critics alleging he failed to prosecute enough criminals committing crimes like burglary, car thefts and murder, and released repeat offenders from jail who broke the law again. Boudin’s interim replacement, current District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, was elected to her own full term in November, later saying business owners and other residents felt the city was “lawless” during his tenure.
Ryan Motzek, president of the Merchants Association in San Francisco’s Merchant District, told the Chronicle he urged the city government to increase police patrols, saying, “the Mission community is not asking for a police state, for the neighborhood to be whitewashed. But the basics don’t exist.”
Hayes Valley Merchant Association President Lloyd Silverstein reported that daytime incidents seemed to decline after SFPD increased the number of officers patrolling his neighborhood on foot.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared in her Feb. 9 State of City Address that she would introduce “a $25 million dollar budget supplemental to fund overtime and keep our officers walking beats, making drug arrests, and addressing retail theft.” Her spokesperson Parisa Safarzadeh called the proposed measure “a critical and key step to unlocking the barriers that are contributing to crime and other illegal activities,” the Chronicle reported.
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce CEO Rodney Fong told the outlet that a single commercial burglary “kills the confidence of consumers, people who maybe want to open a business of their own.” He added, “We have to change that dynamic.”
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