Car break-ins spike 26% in San Francisco since last year

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The number of car break-ins in San Francisco has spiked more than 25 percent since last year according to recent crime statistics.

This is not welcome news for a city that experienced more than 25,000 break-ins by the end of October alone. It's about 5,000 more than reported at the same time last year.

The increase happened despite police efforts to ramp up crime prevention by increasing SFPD foot patrols.

"This one's been broken into that one's been broken into," said Ru Das, pointing at the majority of cars in his Auto glass repair shop downtown.

"For every five cars that we bring in, at least three to four are break ins," he said. Over the past two years, Das says business is up 40 percent.

"It's December and normally this is the 'slow season' in auto glass and we haven't seen that slow season this year," said Das.

City officials had hoped to see a dip in auto break-ins late this summer after Chief Bill Scott dismantled the department's investigative unit assigned to car break ins, choosing instead to double the number of foot patrol officers. It's a move he hoped would deter burglars from crime in the first place.

"Between October and November auto burglaries actually dropped by 11 percent," said SFPD Officer Robert Rueca. He said he understands the public's frustration but the Chief's plan needs more time and officers have been busy targeting repeat offenders.

"We're partnering up more closely with our partners at the District Attorney's Office so that we can really put the hammer and throw the book at people that we have caught," said Officer Rueca.

"I definitely think we need to give it more time but more importantly we need to give it more resources," said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who says staffing numbers are down at SFPD and need to be beefed up.

"We've put police presence round the clock at Twin Peaks. They went from 8-10 break ins a day to eight over an entire month," said Sheehy.

This October Sheehy's own mother-in-law, fleeing the North Bay fires, had her car broken into in front of Sheehy's Glen Park home after being parked for just 20 minutes.

"Two years ago it was just in certain places in San Francisco and now it's everywhere. It doesn't matter if you're in Russian Hill, you name it, you're getting broken into," said Das.

Over the next week, SFPD is once again pushing out a social media campaign to warn drivers not to leave valuables in their cars. But some supervisors like Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen say that's not enough.

They're are pushing for legislation to create decentralized police units at each station to fight property crime: it's legislation they wanted months ago, but pulled back to give Chief's Scott's plan a chance.