San Francisco, it seems, is where the rainbow ends.


On June 9, 2012, interlopers wearing vests and hard hats entered contractor Joe Cassidy's construction site at Market and Dolores. They only made off with one tool. But it was a big one: a 2006 Gradall 544D1055 forklift, capable of hoisting a 5-ton object to a height of 55 feet.

The thieves nonchalantly motored the 34,000-pound forklift — painted an eye-catching shade of royal blue — past the fence and into the San Francisco night. They were never apprehended.

Cassidy dutifully filled out a police report. But, two weeks later, he ended up spotting the bus-sized vehicle himself. It was abandoned in an alleyway in Bernal, around four miles from his site.

It remains unknown what the purloined Gradall was used to lift — in every sense of the word.

Cassidy, like so many San Francisco builders, has adopted a siege mentality. He now keeps his tools locked within a job box that is, itself, locked within a job box. Alarms are rigged to both. The lights are kept on at all hours. Cameras are mounted throughout the jobsite.

This is an expensive proposition. But the costs can be passed on to the customers. As in all things San Francisco these days, there is no shortage of money. There is no shortage of people willing to do anything for money.

And there is never a shortage of people willing to pay.

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