Busting auto boosters
Capt. Alexa O’Brien
As some Richmond Review readers might have already heard or read, I am very familiar
with the Richmond District area. I grew up around here and frequented this area as a kid
and in my adult life as a regular civilian before I became a cop.
During my short time here as the captain of the Richmond Police Station, I have been
spending quite a bit of time patrolling the same areas, meeting with citizens at
community meetings and reading almost every single police report about the
various crimes that have occurred in our district. We have one of the largest police
districts in the City and I can assure you we have the smallest amount of
crime. The crime we do have is concerning and not ignored.
With that said, the Richmond does have a problem with auto burglaries in highly
popular areas for tourism, including:
- Cliff House area;
- Clement shopping district, between Second and 11th avenues;
- Golden Gate Park near the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the Academy of Sciences;
- Geary Boulevard shopping district between Second and 18th avenues;
- Beach Chalet area, including the Ocean Beach parking lot;
- City Center shopping center, near Geary and Masonic Avenue.
These tourist areas, like so many around the City, are popular with burglars because they
know tourists will store many of their valuable belongings in the trunk of their car.
My goal here as captain is to convey and spread the message that being smart with your
belongings and planning will prevent people from being a victim of an auto burglary.
For example, you shouldn’t park your car and get out with your designer
purse or big camera bag, put them in the trunk of your car and walk away. What the
victim has just done is show the burglar where all their valuables are located.
The auto burglar will watch the victim walk away, look around to make sure there
are no police in the vicinity, and “pop” – the burglar quickly breaks the window and
steals the items. This whole process can happen in a matter of seconds.
The burglars are usually driven away from where the crime occurred by lookouts who
sit in their vehicle. Then, they are off to their next “hot spot” to do the same thing.
No matter how much we patrol those affected areas, and we do, the burglars lie in
wait for the police presence to leave the area before they commit
their crimes. The best thing to do is to not leave anything inside your vehicle.
Just as I was finishing up writing this piece for the paper, my officers walked into the
station with two juveniles who were arrested for trying to steal a cell phone from a man
walking on Clement Street at 34th Avenue. The victim didn’t want to give up his cell
phone, so the brazen kids dragged him up a ramp where they punched and
kicked him more than 10 times until a witness scared them off.
A suspect description was broadcast to all Richmond Station officers and we were able to
locate the perps a few blocks away and take them into custody. If there is ever a time
when you come face to face with a person attempting to steal your phone,
please just hand it over. It is not worth the fight and you can get seriously injured!
Please be safe and smart when out and about and take care of one another if you see
someone in distress. And say something if you think a crime is occurring or
about to occur.