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Car break-ins skyrocket as thieves target unsuspecting tourists


By Kenny Choi

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    SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Car break-ins have skyrocketed in San Francisco, increasing by more than 700 percent in some parts of the city. With more people visiting after county and state restrictions were lifted, thieves are taking advantage of tourists by breaking into rental cars.

“Sucky end to our vacation but what can we do,” said Kaitlin Lore, visiting from New Jersey.

“There’s some glass over there and over there. We didn’t think anything of it and sure enough our car got broken into,” said Tony Medina, visiting from Los Angeles.

SFPD’s Central Station reported auto burglaries skyrocketed 753% in May compared to the same time last year during lockdowns and they’re still up 75% compared to the same period in 2019.

“It’s a lot worse. You see it in front of your business, and they’re not scared,” said Stella Clark of Bay City Bikes.

“I expected if I called 911 maybe a cop would come,” said Penny Nurenberger of St. Louis.

“It’s kind of scary. We usually don’t see stuff like this,” said one tourist who did not wish to give his name.

“We paid for this parking and there’s no security to park our cars,” said Medina Juanita of Los Angeles.

“They don’t even care. They tell us what the hell are you going to do,” said another tourism operator who did not wish his business to be identified.

One family who did not wish to be identified showed KPIX 5 pictures they took as they witnessed thieves in action just before pulling into a parking lot on Embarcadero and Bay Street.

“We saw him bust out the glass and take bags out of the cars,” said the tourist who did not wish to be named.

Tourism operators say business started picking up after lifted restrictions, but are now worried about the long-term impact of visitors staying away.

“It’s already affecting business. The sad part is the tourists have a great trip and then what happens is they go home and say our city is a (expletive),” said the operator, who said he fears thieves will target his business.

Police arrested four teenagers in May breaking into cars in the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

SFPD says if it’s an active break-in, call 911, but if to file a report online, by calling a designated number on its website, or by visiting the appropriate district station in person.

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