Home burglaries are greatly increasing in our community. As your neighborhood association, we want to help. Below we have provided the current SFPD Report and Figures, the Police Response, and suggestions on how you can protect your home.
SFPD Report and Figures
The CHA met with SFPD Chief Scott, Northern Station Capt. Yep and D2 Supervisor Stefani on December 17. According to the SFPD, home burglaries have increased 46% over last year, and 69% on the city’s northside, including Cow Hollow!
Home burglaries are often done when no one is home, but increasingly done as more dangerous what are called “hot prowl” burglaries, that is, break-ins even though the residents are home. It is thought this is due to the shelter-in-place orders and the fact that the burglars are more bold, likely due in part to the following.
Fewer than 12% of home burglaries are solved by arrests. Figures were not available on convictions. The SFPD did not respond to an inquiry whether the current San Francisco DA’s prosecution policy not to file charges for property crimes were a cause for the lack of convictions and/or a contributing cause for the increase in home burglaries.
The causes cited by the SFPD included the good resale value of stolen items, many of the burglaries being by the same group of some 30 suspects who the police have now focused on, the current existence of established fencing operations, and the fact that car break-ins are way down due to the marked decline in tourists due to Covid-19 (tourists leaving laptops and other valuable belongings in their cars).
The Police Response
The SFPD is detailing plain clothes police in unmarked cars, patrolling, and
increasing foot patrols. But response times for reported crime accords priority to home burglary only if the intrusion is in progress and homeowner is home. This is because higher priority response time is given to assaults and gunpoint robberies, and the calls on these (and home burglaries) have greatly increased.
Finally, the SFPD is more than 200 officers below its formerly authorized complement which is not to be met due to the budget adjustments from police reform measures.
Suggestion on How You Can Protect Your Home
Some Cow Hollow Association members and other Cow Hollow residents have recently been victims of home burglaries, and some victims of attempted home burglaries. They and others have taken various protective measures to prevent and discourage being victimized. Here are measures they recommend.
Keep entry lights on at night. Lighted doorways deter break-ins since the perpetrators then stand out to neighbors and passerby, the light also giving the impression that any recording cameras will get better identifying photos.
Keep one or more interior lights on at night. Perpetrators are less likely to enter a home if they believe the occupant(s) are present and likely awake.
Install motion flood lights at entryways. These can scare a would-be burglar off for all the above reasons. Fredrickson's sells the units.
Install metal gates at street entryways, especially the front door. Front doors are particularly vulnerable to forced entry by breaking their glass panels, as are alleyway doors by busting out their door panels and/or smashing the door loose of its dead bolt when not properly embedded in the door frame. Metal gates can cost in the range of $1K to $10K, require another key or fob. Simple gate doors are available at big box home stores ranging from $175 to $2K. Some residents opt not to install gates because they prefer to not have to stand and pause outside at the entry when it is raining. But gates are effective. An alternative is special smash-proof door glass. See below Safety Glass.
Put video cams at entryways and garage doors. Consider at least a video component as part of a front door bell system: Ring Nest Outdoor, Ubiquity, and Network Video by Dahlua Technologies are a few that some Cow Hollow neighbors are using.
Eliminate garage door remotes. If, as many of us do, you leave a remote in a car that you park when shopping or visiting—a car that you regularly park in your garage, hide it (under the seat for example) if there is anything in the car that identifies where you live. Consider abandoning handheld remotes, especially if they might be visible by flashlight such as in the side compartment. Don't forget about family members and others who might already have one. If you leave your car parked outside at night, do not program your car's integrated garage door remote button, as most work even if the car power is turned off, providing easy access to your garage and house.
Protect your garage door with reinforced or break-proof panels and a dead bolt device when away for extended periods of time. Automatic Garage Door smash proof garage doors. Dead bolts for garage doors come in two varieties: manual and electrical with a remote. They both prevent burglars from penetrating the door and then, with an extension device, pulling the “emergency” cord unlocking the latch, thereby allowing the door to then be raised by hand. The manual deadbolts are useful for when you are away for extended periods; the more expensive electrical/remotes allow for daily use.
Get a hooded mail slot and break-proof protective glass for your front door panels. The vulnerability of front doors is that burglars can reach in with extension devises and unlock the deadbolt, whether through the front door mail slot or by knocking out glass panels.Hooded mail slot: a neighbor has recently installed one from MyKnobs.com. Safety glass: This is specially laminated glass protective against hurricanes and break-ins, expensive but not more than a wholly new reinforced door. Sentry Guard Glass is being used in one or more Cow Hollow homes. Some local vendors such as www.sfsilverglass.com and www.glassplusfilm.com or Security Glass Company at 415-822-6112 among others (a yelp search can help you) can install laminated glass or add security films to your existing glass doors to strengthen them against break ins. You may experience long lead times at this time as they are all busy.
Install a burglar alarm which, on breach, will alert a private security company who will immediately come to the address. Commonly used companies in our neighborhood include ADT, Bay Alarm, Warman and SimpliFi.
Public Policy Initiatives
The DA’s Office: DA Chesa Boudin ran on a platform and has announced an unprecedented policy of not prosecuting property crimes to jail sentences in favor of seeking “rehabilitation”, attempting to address the “underlying causes” for the crime, and requiring the making of amends to the victims. This means that SFPD arrests do not result in confinement: neither pending trial even when the perpetrator is a repeat offender and/or otherwise a danger to others, nor at a sentencing. Unless and until this policy is changed and the current resistance of the DA's office to prosecute property crimes is replaced, a growing number of people believe that we cannot expect any change in the incidence or harmful consequences of home burglaries in the city.
The SFPD: As noted above, the force is over 200 officers below authorized strength. The Mayor, Board of Supervisors and the Police Commission control this. Recently, as part police reform measures, the budget allocation for the police has been cut, which is to be offset by relieving them from responding to incidents involving the homeless and mentally unstable which is being moved to the Street Crisis Response Team (part of the Mental Health SF legislation). Requesting Chief Scott and the Northern Station to increase northside patrols is the main police action which can reduce home burglaries.
The Board of Supervisors: District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani has recently demanded that DA Boudin explain his charging policies with respect to previously convicted, charged again but released offenders. Requesting her to also seek an explanation of the DA’s lack of prosecution for property crimes and the figures could also help: the number of arrests, property stolen, prior convictions, releases of the arrested, their rearrests, releases again; and also, the number of any convictions and sentences, if any, imposed.