As Burglaries Have Increased, So Have Activism and Denial
You don’t have to have lived in our neighborhood very long to realize that home burglaries have spiked dramatically since the pandemic began. Each of us has a freshly minted story about our home being broken into, knows an immediate neighbor with a story, or both.
We don’t need the SFPD’s eye-popping statistics to tell us how criminals have switched from the easy-pickings of breaking into tourists’ rental cars to the valuable contents of our garages, homes and apartment buildings. As this crime has grown, so too have two competing movements; a growing chorus of neighbors trying to educate and empower their neighbors to be aware and to protect themselves, and a small group of those in denial that crime is increasing at all.
It’s not the physical property loss that impacts most neighbors (although losing one’s bike to burglary hits hard when it’s your primary source of transportation). Rather, it’s the palpable, gut-wrenching sense of personal violation, the loss of one’s sense of security and safety that matters most. Multiply it by hundreds or thousands during a time of economic and emotional struggle, and the Richmond District’s happy, family-friendly shine of “a nice place to live” starts to fade for many of us.
As the number of burglaries have grown unchecked in our neighborhood, grassroots groups of neighbors have been coming together to try to stop the trend. They want to amplify messages of awareness, prevention, and action. More than just holding Zoom meetings to talk incessantly, they are actively lobbying the SFPD for increased late-night patrols. They are coordinating with the City’s public safety group, SF SAFE, to facilitate more neighborhood watch groups. They are working to educate neighbors of the latest burglary tactics. They are sharing tips, tools, ideas and referrals of how neighbors can safely and effectively protect their homes on NextDoor.com and websites, like StopRichmondBurglary.org. I, for one, hope we could all get behind and contribute to these efforts that strengthen community bonds and safety for everyone, especially frightened seniors.
Sadly, some neighbors feel these efforts to educate and empower neighbors are misguided and they are actively working to discredit and silence them. One needs only log into NextDoor.com to see a small, vocal handful of neighbors gaslighting that crime is down while howling about “fear mongering” and “vigilantism”. These tones of denial and “just sit back and take it” echo those of our current elected local leaders who are choosing to deny reality and avoid mentioning spiking crime at all costs.
We can leave crime-fighting to the experts at SFPD. But we can do more crime-prevention ourselves. We owe it to our neighborhood to stand up, chip in, and help our neighbors from becoming victims.
Working parent and Richmond District neighbor