Serial burglary suspect re-arrested in San Francisco

- San Francisco Police say property crime continues to be a problem because of repeat offenders.

Captain Joseph McFadden, head of the investigations unit, says when thieves are arrested, they spend a short amount of time in jail and they're right back out on the streets, committing the same crimes over and over again. 

Police say one man who was charged with multiple burglaries was released while awaiting trial. Less than two weeks later, he hit three stores. 

"He tried to hit it eight times and tried to unlock the door," said Michelle Blas, an optometrist, as she showed a KTVU crew how the burglar tried to break in through the front door of her shop Eyes in Disguise.

She says she arrived Monday morning and found the glass broken on her front door.

Her surveillance camera caught a man breaking in. And police said they recognized the burglar, a repeat offender who has already been charged with five burglaries of stores selling designer eyeglasses in various neighborhoods.

"The reason why they do it is because they get a slap on the wrist and they're done," said Blas. .

Police say she's right. Investigators have identified the burglar as 37-year- old Benjamin Chase. They say a judge released him May 7 while he was awaiting trial, with orders to get drug rehab and to wear an ankle bracelet. 

"We see these same suspects committing the same crimes over and over again on the streets,"said Captain McFadden. 

He shared with us surveillance video of Chase breaking into other businesses. 

Captain McFadden says his unit is using a strategy called "bundling" to crack down on property crimes committed by repeat offenders. .... 

"Once you get a few cases, you put them all together to build a stronger case to take forward to the judge and to a jury possibly," said Captain McFadden. 

He acknowledges the bundling of five cases against Chase did not keep the judge from releasing him, but says now that there's additional cases, there is a stronger argument to keep him behind bars. 

Optometrist Blas now removes all the eyeglasses from the front display windows when she closes up shop.  

She's frustrated since this week's break-in was the second in five months. She just bought the business a year ago, realizing a dream she says worked towards for 24 years. 

"He's hurting the small business owner who struggles. This is an expensive area. We struggle to survive on this block," said Blas. 

Police are advising victims to work closely with prosecutors, attend court proceedings and testify so the judge and jury will know the impact of the crime.

Suspect Benjamin Chase was arrested Tuesday.

He is being held in San Francisco County Jail without bail.

He is scheduled to be in court July 12. 
 

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