Off-duty CHP officer's firearm stolen in SoMa

- An off-duty California Highway Patrol officer had his firearm stolen out of his vehicle in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood on Sunday, a CHP spokesman said Monday.

It is the latest incident in a rash of auto burglaries around the San Francisco Bay area in which firearms issued or belonging to law enforcement officials have been stolen.

In Sunday's incident, the officer had parked his personal vehicle near the intersection of Eighth and Howard streets. When he returned to the vehicle on Sunday night he discovered that the front passenger-side window was broken and that a bag containing his personal pistol was missing, CHP spokesman Vu Williams said.

The officer reported the auto burglary to San Francisco police and the Police Department is investigating the incident, Williams said.

Williams said the pistol was not in a secure lockbox when it was stolen. He said Monday that the gun had not been recovered.

In a separate incident, on July 1, 32-year-old San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle was fatally shot near the San Francisco Ferry Building with a pistol that had been reported stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger.

The gun was stolen during an auto burglary while he was traveling on official business in San Francisco.

Attorney Frank Pitre, who has filed a wrongful death claim against the Bureau of Land Management on behalf of the Steinle family, said that the gun was left in the federal ranger's vehicle against mandatory regulations for federal employees.

Another incident occurred in August, when a gun belonging to a Hayward police officer was stolen from a car in Oakland.

Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said that the firearm was stolen near a shopping plaza a few blocks from the Fruitvale BART station.

Hayward police spokesman Sgt. Ryan Cantrell said that the gun was a Hayward officer's, but he declined to release the officer's name.

Earlier in August, University of California police Chief Margo Bennett had her gun, badge, department-issued laptop and other items stolen from her car as she jogged at Point Isabel in Richmond.

In San Francisco police say between January and June this year, there were 14,187 auto break-ins. That's a 45 percent increase over the same period last year.

"We have an auto burglary problem in San Francisco, so we tell everybody don't leave anything within the passenger compartment in your car," said San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr

Suhr says his department policy requires officers to lock up firearms if they must leave them in the car.

"It's to be secured in the trunk or a lockbox affixed to the inside of the car and under no circumstance are they to be left in a car overnight," said Suhr.

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos wants to write that policy into law.

His ordinance would require all San Francisco police, sheriff's deputies and probation officers to secure their service weapons, even if they're off duty.

"If they leave a weapon in a vehicle, they have to put it in a lockbox or they have to lock it in their trunk," explained Campos. "And it provides consequences up to and including termination."

Campos says as a result of Sunday night's break-in, he plans to amend his ordinance to include personal weapons.

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