by Bonnee Waldstein
With the uptick in vehicular crime in Glen Park, particularly breakins, many concerned residents are gathering together to brainstorm the issues and solutions. Captain McFadden of the Ingleside Station holds regular monthly community meetings that alternate between the Ingleside police station near Balboa Park, and neighborhoods within its jurisdiction.
There are about 103 officers on the Ingleside force, including plainclothes, a housing unit and investigators.
On this occasion, Captain McFadden was joined by Lt. Chris Schaffer of the swing watch (4 p.m. to 2 a.m.), and Sgt. David Maron.
On February 15, a neighborhood group, the Fairmount Heights Association, invited Captain McFadden to its meeting at the Police Academy. The association is an area within Glen Park comprised of the historic boundaries of the Fairmount tract. It’s like an inverted triangle, so it’s difficult to characterize: roughly, 30th Street on the north; Dolores Street on the east; Arlington and Miguel Streets on the south; and Beacon Street on the west.
From 2015 to 2016, reported theft from vehicles in Fairmount Heights increased from 35 to 44 incidents; burglary decreased from 17 to 16; auto theft decreased from 28 to 22; other larceny decreased from 12 to 8. There was one robbery incident during this period.
The captain cited Prop 47 as a possible contributing cause of vehicular crime — some felonies were recently reclassified as misdemeanors. Perpetrators can work in teams, each one committing part of the crime, e.g., one smashes the window (car alarms might not be sensored for breaking windows), another steals contents, and a third might drive from the scene. Each component is treated as a misdemeanor rather than one felony crime. If the perpetrators are caught, they are cited and have 30 days to appear in court.
The most “popular” stolen cars are old Toyotas, other Japanese cars, Chevys, and GMC trucks. European cars are less prone to breakins because the keys are hard to duplicate and there’s not much of a market for chopped down models.
It’s then up to the DA or judge whether to prosecute, which may involve jail, restitution, classes, or some other punishment. Victims have the right to request that the thief be prosecuted. They might change their mind about proceeding with it when they learn that a young offender faces jail time.
In advocating for prosecution, it’s helpful if victims join together as a group to push for action. Write to the judge on the case and speak as a victim in court. If a victim is willing to talk, the case gets more priority.
Crime prevention is attempted in large part by patrol cars in the various sectors; another method is the use of plainclothes officers. Police conduct field interviews following reports of suspicious activity and a Station Investigation Team does follow-up interviews after an incident.
Residents can take steps to deter vehicular and other crime. Install security cameras. In the garage, disable the button, add a lockable latch, remove the emergency rope attached to the gear lock, and don’t leave the garage door opener in the car.
Construction sites, of which there are many in Glen Park, can be quite vulnerable since they are unattended during non-work hours, especially weekends. Again, security cameras and motion detectors can be vital.
Helpful phone numbers: To report suspicious activity and people: 415-553-0123. Instead of 911 on cell phone, call 415-553-8090.
Other tips: Put identifiable engraving on bikes and all personal property, even at home. The police will call if they run a serial number on found property. Note that no bicycle lock is 100% effective. Back up all computer files on a separate drive or the cloud.
On the positive side, Captain McFadden said that Glen Park is safer than 99% of the city, noting that Bernal has twenty times the crime. Like Glen Park, it has freeway access for getaways. But Bernal attracts more “commuter” thieves because they’re more familiar with the access points such as Bayshore Boulevard. On the other hand, once they arrive in Glen Park, they face a confusing maze of narrow twisting streets.
There have been many complaints about the Miguel Street “raceway.” The Captain advises to call and be specific: Who is running a stop sign, when, which intersection? Email the captain. If you get no response, do it again — and again. Complaints are tracked through the emails and traffic units can be assigned to troublesome locations.
Google maps is being blamed for some of the dangerous driving through Glen Park. The residential streets become thoroughfares and cars get sideswiped through speed and carelessness.
In order to initiate a car chase, there must be a violent felony. The police won’t chase a car that’s evading a speeding ticket, for example; the threat to public safety is not worth the risk.
email Captain McFadden at Joseph.McFadden@sfgov.org