Crime

Suspect Nabbed in Westside Crime Spree

By Jonathan Farrell

Village House Restaurant, on the corner of 35th Avenue and Balboa Street, was one of the four businesses burglarized within a three-block area of the Outer Richmond. Police believe it was the start of a crime spree by an individual who is now in custody. Photo by Michael Durand.

A string of early-morning burglaries that struck the Richmond District on April 10 also hit the Sunset soon thereafter, allegedly by the same culprit. 

 Investigators from the Robbery and Burglary Detail of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) reported that the suspect in eight incidents was caught and booked on April 17. 

 “At approximately 5:25 p.m. San Francisco Police officers arrested 39-year-old Benjamin Chase of San Francisco,” noted officer Adam Lobsinger of SFPD’s Public Information Office. “Chase was booked at SF County Jail on multiple counts of burglary, grand theft, robbery, vandalism, looting and a parole violation.”

According to police, Chase allegedly began his crime spree with a series of early-morning burglaries along a three-block stretch of Balboa Street in the Outer Richmond on April 10 between 6 and 8 a.m.

“Officers arrived on scene and found a window broken out of the front of a business,” said Lobsinger, describing each incident. 

 The businesses hit were: Village House, Superior Palace, Little Henry’s and Kim Son Vietnamese, according to a statement from Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer. She added on Facebook that “… the fact that several of our small family-owned restaurants … on Balboa were broken into during this unprecedented time is beyond frustrating to say the least.”

According to the police report, in two of the four burglaries an “undetermined amount” of cash was taken. Computer tablets were taken from one of the businesses. Only one restaurant had nothing stolen.

On Monday, April 13, three days after the Balboa Street crimes, Chase allegedly continued his crime spree in the 1200 block of Ninth Avenue in the Inner Sunset.  A business owner on Ninth Avenue told police on the scene nothing was taken. 

Two days later, he allegedly robbed a bank on the 2200 block of Irving Street, just after 10 a.m. 

Nothing was mentioned in the police report about the amount of money stolen from the bank. It was reported that the thief put his demands for money in writing on a slip of paper and handed it to a teller who complied.

Chase is also accused of returning to the Richmond to carry out another  robbery at a bank in the 300 block of Sixth Avenue on Friday, April 17, just after 10 a.m. The teller there told police that Chase had used a note to demand money, saying he had a gun. 

Chase was apprehended later that evening.

“While an arrest has been made, if you have any information related to these incidents, we encourage you to contact the SFPD anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the beginning of the message,” Lobsinger said.

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