Car break-ins on the decline in San Francisco’s Financial District neighborhood

Car break-in reports fall 22% in the Financial District after pandemic but still lead in second place behind the Northern District.

Car break-ins have plummeted by more than half in the Financial District over the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the year before, falling from 1,038 in 2019-2020 to 307 in 2020-2021, according to city data analyzed by News With Karla. 

Reports of car break-ins dropped citywide by last July, a fall that experts attributed mostly to a significant loss of tourism due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety guidelines, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Car break-in reports have continued to fall citywide: Data shows that a year before the pandemic had started, there were a total of 28,396 car break-in police reports filed throughout all of San Francisco as we hit the one year mark of the pandemic in comparison to the 13,343 reports filed the year after.

However, the fall has been especially pronounced in the Financial District. From March 14, 2019, to March 14, 2020, the Financial District had accounted for about 30% of total reports filed specifying larson theft from their vehicle within District 3. This year the neighborhood only accounted for 8% of reports filed within the district. 

“Generally, car [break-ins] are very difficult to solve because the entire crime could… happen in seconds,” said Julian Ng, captain of the Central Station Police Department, in an email.

Captain Ng says that in most cases, these burglaries will happen in areas highly populated with tourists; however, the Financial District has not had as many issues as Fisherman’s Wharf and [the] department heavily relies on surveillance video and other physical evidence in order to solve cases. Car break-ins are one of the most common crimes aside from larceny (shoplifting).

“Public and private interests often invest resources into protecting consumers and privileged workers in high-end commercial districts like the Financial District, in ways that they don’t for working-class communities of color,” said SF State Professor Cesar Rodriguez in an email, adding that the furthest he could provide at this point was speculation taking a critical, social justice-based approach to studying the criminal punishment system.

The fall in car break-ins has come at a time when the pandemic has heightened the need for basic necessities, suggests local San Francisco resident and medical social worker Patti Resendiz, whose car was broken into in her own neighborhood within recent months.

“I’m not angry anymore. It’s just more upsetting… that someone actually broke my car, someone broke into my car and stole my property,” said Resediz.

Resediz said that though break-ins are to be expected as a part of life, it was still a disheartening situation to be in. Though she lost mostly replaceable material items, she is now afraid of leaving her car out in public and fears the possibility of being targeted.

Resendiz said she wished the police department could have done more. 

District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin declined to comment. 

By Karla O

Karla Orellana is a Creative Writing major and Journalism minor at San Francisco State University

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