SFPD Optimistic About Ending Car Break-in Epidemic

Facing pressure from City Hall, the department now reports crime-reduction on a monthly, instead of quarterly, basis.

The San Francisco Police Department has faced pressure from all sides over the past few months, after politicians and city residents learned that there had been a 26-percent increase in car break-ins from 2016 to 2017. Auto burglaries are being referred to as an “epidemic” in City Hall, and SFPD has hustled to redistribute staff to crack down on the organized crime rings responsible for the vandalism and thefts.

The jury has been out on whether or not any of these endeavors — from increasing numbers of beat cops to creating neighborhood-specific car theft task forces — have made a dent in crime, but SFPD data implies the efforts are working. The department normally notifies media about crime statistics on a quarterly basis, but this week, a press release landed in reporters’ inboxes highlighting the fact that vehicle theft citywide decreased 31 percent in February over the month prior. In January, 2,577 thefts from cars occurred. In February — which, notably, is three days shorter than January — 1,780 took place.

Police Chief William Scott is hopeful the reduction marks a move in the right direction.

“The increased visibility of our officers and our efforts to educate the public through our Park Smart program are paying off,” Scott said. “While these numbers are encouraging, these crimes continue to impact too many residents and visitors to our city. There is still much work ahead. We will continue to use data to evaluate and adjust our strategies in order to effectively prevent and investigate auto burglaries.”

That said, 1,780 is not a small number, and with 30,000 car break-ins reported in 2017, SFPD still has a ways to go in order to prove to City Hall that this epidemic is curable.

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