San Francisco officials offer tips for safe Lunar New Year celebrations

San Francisco supervisors and police representatives walked the streets Wednesday, connecting with the community and sharing safety tips for Lunar New Year celebrations. The issue is getting a lot of attention because of recent high-profile incidents where elderly victims were targeted.

San Francisco supervisors Gordon Mar and Myrna Melgar and a San Francisco police captain walked along Taraval Street going from business to business, telling workers they're there to support them and urging them to report any problems to the police.

The visits, just days before the new year, take on added urgency with a recent series of high profile crimes targeting Asian American seniors.

"Today is a time as a city need to confront these serious issues, impacting the Asian community, but overall racism and intolerance has risen in recent years," said Supervisor Mar.

San Francisco police said they have been monitoring the recent crimes on both sides of the bay and telling anyone preparing red envelopes, traditionally filled with a cash gift to celebrate the new year, to bring someone with them if they're going to the bank.

"As far as having red envelopes displayed I wouldn't do that, I wouldn't display them, if there is any way to go inside the bank to do that transaction, rather than standing out using an ATM where you might be visible to anyone watching that ATM," said Capt. Nick Rainsford from San Francisco Police Department.

The supervisors are worried beyond the new year, and are preparing for a hearing next month to address violence targeting Asian American seniors.

"We need to make sure that as a community we work across communities with the African American community, with the police department so that we, you know, have policies that keep everyone safe," said Supervisor Melgar.

Supervisors said there has been an increase in hate crimes over the last five years. Police are reporting that robberies in the five weeks of 2021 are down compared to the same period last year, burglaries, though, are up.