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San Francisco Police, City Hall, Won’t Intervene In Broad Daylight Stolen Goods Fencing Operation

Published: April 21, 2022
SFPD and City Hall won't intervene in a broad daylight fencing market where stolen goods from carjackings and break-ins are hawked.
A security guard keeps watch outside The Real Real store, which boarded its windows after a spike in robberies near Union Square on November 30, 2021 in San Francisco, California. SFPD and City Hall have declined to intervene in an open air, broad daylight fencing operation where stolen goods from carjackings and break ins are hawked, found a new ABC7 report. (Image: by Ethan Swope/Getty Images)

Criminals involved in the trend of vehicle break-ins and carjackings in San Francisco have been fencing their goods at an open air street market without being hindered by law enforcement, a resident says after recording the scene for months.

One unnamed tech worker who has an unhindered view from his windowpane of Garfield Square in San Francisco’s Mission District has been filming the thugs’ activities for months now. 

“It’s, it’s like, where I live,” the resident told Dan Noyes of ABC7 News. “And so, you know, it’s kind of scary.”

The tenant also told the news outlet the fencing operation takes place frequently, almost daily: “Any time. I kind of like, spend some time watching it every week, usually like every day.”

Even though he witnessed these obvious crime scenes being played out on a daily basis, he told ABC7 he’s still yet to see law enforcement interfering with the schemes.

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“Did you see any crackdown? Did the police do something that you could see?” Noyes asked the man.

“No, no, nothing that I’m aware of,” the man told Noyes. “Given how blatant and brazen it is, it’s alarming that it would take this long to do something about it.”

An unanswered call

That’s when the resident contacted the San Francisco Police Department. In an email from September of last year, the whistleblower intricately detailed every move and any traceable hallmarks, license plate numbers, etc., of the perpetrators’ deeds and actions. 

However, apart from a single initial call from an investigator, nothing happened, so then he called in the news media.

When Noyes contacted Hillary Ronen, the Mission District supervisor at City Hall, Ronen said they were aware of the situation, but admitted they hadn’t done much about it.

“Have the police been aggressive enough? Do you think in addressing these things like this resident who sees the open-air market for stolen goods?” Noyes asked, pressing for an answer.

“No,” Ronen said. “I mean, no, they haven’t.”

Red band-aids

Ronen did say, however, that her office has come up with a plan also endorsed by Mayor London Breed. One that, rather than involving law enforcement, will attempt to hinder the market with bureaucratic red tape.

The plan is to have street vendors apply for a permit to sell their goods. 

 “If they don’t have a permit, then DPW (Department of Public Works) can confiscate their goods, and say you can’t sell,” Ronen told the broadcaster, indicating it would be the DPW tasked with the enforcement of the new regulation—not the police.

 “Were the police involved in that process?” Noyes asked regarding the office’s plans.

“No, they weren’t.”

When the journalist asked why, he was told, “Because we want police focused on the bigger issues, on the violent crimes.” 

“And we…This is so widespread and doesn’t need them,” Ronen said, implying car burglary and hawking stolen goods on a daily basis is no big issue.

Noyes also spoke to SFPD captain Gavin McEachern, who admitted the force did receive the resident’s email last year, but absolved himself of responsibility because the event took place before he took office.

“Me, and being a police officer, I would have jumped all over that, we would have had, you know, we would have been on it,” McEachern said, still not explaining why nothing happened or how his department could possibly be unaware of a broad daylight criminal operation.

“The way he laid things out with license plates and descriptions, and things like that. I mean, that gives us a lot of investigative leads that we can certainly follow up on,” McEachern said about the email.

Hamstrung police

McEachern also explained that for police, chasing thieves was bootless since SFPD officers are not allowed to engage in high speed pursuit when going after perpetrators of property crime—an oddity criminals know about, and they use this loophole to simply speed off after committing a crime—off to the next one.

Meanwhile, the police union president Tracy McCray blames District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who, in her view, doesn’t really want to go to the bitter end when it comes to pursuing these cases.

“People got arrested. And then they got released,” McCray said in the video. 

“And they went out and committed the same type of crimes. Right? And so it’s just kind of this revolving door of, yeah, and you know, we catch them, but they’re not really being held accountable, you know, someone cutting off their ankle monitor because they know nothing is going to happen to them.”