SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco Police say despite the success of the Department's task force dedicated specifically to car break-ins, the number of car burglaries has jumped over the past year.
That's why the department unveiled a new strategy to tackle the citywide problem.
Chief Bill Scott , flanked by several members of his command staff, announced today that the new plan involves dismantling the task force, shrinking the narcotics unit and adding roughly 100 officers to the streets. Scott wouldn't give a specific number, but he said it would be "less than 100."
The car break-in problem has mushroomed into an epidemic. SFPD's Crime Analysis Unit found that over the past two years, nearly 32,000 cars have been reported burglarized.
"Our discussions at SFPD were... right now, what can we do to change the course of this?" said Chief Bill Scott at a press conference today at police headquarters.
Since October of 20-15, the Patrol Bureau Task Force, dedicated specifically to car break-ins and other property crime, has made nearly 400 arrests.
But despite those solid numbers, the incidence of car-break ins has gone up 28 percent from one year ago.
"The arrests are fantastic and we can make em and close out a case," said Asst Chief Toney Chaplin. "But how about it never happening with the presence of the officers being visible on foot? Stopping people from having easy targets?"
"Citywide we had less than 100 full-time officers assigned to the beats of our district stations," said Chief Scott. "That number will almost double after this plan is put in place."
At Mission Station, which encompasses the Mission, the Castro and Noe Valley, the number of foot patrols will quadruple. That's because that District has seen a 182 percent jump in car burglaries. "And just because we're dissolving 18 officers from a task force doesn't mean we're not going to have plainclothes operations in every police district," said SFPD Deputy Chief Mike Redmond.
Some members of SFPD have expressed frustration in the past that the thieves they *do* catch are continually being released from jail by the courts, only to reoffend over and over again, but Cheif Scott refused to point fingers.
"Look we got issues that go beyond what SFPD can control," said Scott. "We can make arrests all day long. We can't control anythign beyond that . What we can control is how we use our cops."
The chief says foot patrols have already been proven effective. The Twin Peaks area has been averaging 44 car break ins per month, but after SFPD beefed up patrols over the last month, there was only car burglary.
Another part of the new strategy is the launch of a new campaign called Park Smart!
Signs will be posted all over the city, warning residents and tourists not to leave valuables in their cars.
"That's going to be our department's philosophy to the public about parking smart," said Cmdr David Lazar. "We're gonna work very hard to get information out about crime prevention to all throughout the city and also to focus in our tourist areas so that when you come to San Francisco, this is a world-class city, a wonderful place to visit and one of the messages that we'll get out to everyone is to make sure not to leave any valuables in their vehicle."