SF curbs car break-ins amid stiffer enforcement


San Francisco residents are all too familiar with the scene of a smashed car window and glass all over the sidewalk or street.

It means a car was most likely broken into.

While last year’s total figure of 31,000 car break-ins in 2017 — an increase of 24 percent from 2016 — was discouraging for many residents, city officials said car break-ins are down by 17 percent during the first three months of 2018 compared to the same time last year.

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell speaks at a press conference on auto break-ins at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

Mayor Mark Farrell said at a press conference Thursday at Fisherman’s Wharf, a tourist destination and car break-in hot spot, that the figures were encouraging, but The City will continue to make efforts to curb the car break-in epidemic:

“Our city cannot continue to thrive if people are afraid to leave their car unattended, when they’re here to live, they’re here to work, they’re here to stop, or visit any of our amazing attractions here in San Francisco.”

He added:

“Parking your car should not be a game of roulette.”

Farrell contributed the recent results to the San Francisco Police Department reallocation of resources to investigating property crimes and doubling foot patrols on city streets.

Additionally, a new campaign was also launched citywide called Park Smart, which reminds residents and visitors to not leave their valuables in their parked vehicle.

The campaign slogan is on Muni buses and in areas known for car break-ins such at Fifth and Mission streets, Dolores Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alamo Square and the Palace of Fine Arts.

Drivers will also see the campaign signage on parking meters and inside parking garages.

The Police Department is also taking steps to train 36 officers in lifting fingerprints off burglarized vehicles.

San Francisco Chief of Police William Scott speaks at a press conference on auto break-ins at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

Police Chief Bill Scott wants car break-in victims to have their vehicles fingerprinted so that to the department can put the prints into its database.

Scott is reminding the public that prevention is key to not becoming a car break-in victim, which is what the Park Smart campaign is about:

“This is about doing everything possible to keep your property safe and to avoid being an easy target for somebody who’s willing to take your belongings.”

Farrell is also proposing an idea that he hopes the District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices will support in having one judge specifically deal with car break-in cases:

“We need to make sure that there are consequences to the actions that are happening on our streets.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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