Auto burglaries in San Francisco on the rise

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Broken glass along the sidewalks and curbs of San Francisco is becoming a more common sight. Auto burglaries are up in the city by 49 percent in the first two months of this year.

"There really is no safe area anymore," said Dave Theisen of Secureway Auto Glass on Bryant Street. "If you park somewhere there's a chance you're gonna get broken into. There just is."

Theisen says break-ins are 80 percent of his business. He sees between seven and 10 cars a day roll into his shop. Each auto burglary victim has the same story. "I don't know what they're after," Theisen said. "They don't even know what they're after. They just break into it to see what they can find."

"Walk around the city, you do see a bunch of broken glass, and that's any neighborhood," explained San Francisco Police spokesman, Albie Esparza. "It certainly might be a hassle, but it should not be a part of parking in the city."

Esparza says though there are no hard statistics to support it yet; Prop 47, a new law that changed some lesser property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, may have the unintended consequence of emboldening would-be auto burglars.

"It's worth the risk to them," Esparza said. "And also, there's nothing to lose and most likely they're not going to see jail time. It is very frustrating."

Esparza says many auto burglaries go unreported, with victims shrugging their shoulders and calling their insurance companies. That doesn't help police. "If they don't report that to the police department we won't have knowledge of it," explained Esparza. "And we won't be able to address it."

On Monday, SFPD had plain clothes officers on special detail around AT&T Park for the Giants home opener to deter would-be auto burglars. The streets around the ballpark are a known area for break-ins.

Some drivers make their vehicles easy targets. KTVU saw one car with the center console open, and dollar bills in plain sight. "Hide everything that's visible of value in the car," Esparza advised. "Don't even leave change out. Pennies. People break into your car for pennies!"