San Francisco cracking down on street vendors who sell stolen goods

It's enforcement day for a new San Francisco law aimed at cracking down on the trade of stolen goods. The city is enforcing a new law aimed at pushing those selling stolen goods out of business.

On any given day the plaza at 24th and Mission in San Francisco can look like an outdoor convenience store with everything from toothpaste and pain medication and even cookware, all for sale. 

Now, a new law co-sponsored by Supervisor Hillary Ronen is being enforced, targeting those who are clearly trafficking in stolen goods. Some of those vendors were decidedly unhappy about the enforcement, and about seeing our camera.

"Listen, I don't like cameras in my face. I don't like cameras and [expletive] in my face."

Santiago Lerma from Supervisor Ronen's office said the outdoor marketplaces grew during the pandemic. 

The aim of the new legislation is to get lawbreakers off the streets, and ultimately reduce the incentive for thieves to steal from brick and mortar businesses. 

"We've also seen a shift from seeing folks selling wares that they'd traded for, bartered for or made, to obviously stolen goods being sold on the street, and by obviously stolen, meaning hundreds of bottles of shampoo with the Walgreens label on them," said Lerma.

Crews from the city's Department of Public Works are now tasked with enforcing the new law, making sure there are clear paths on the sidewalks, educating vendors when they can, and going from vendor to vendor, looking for those selling stolen goods, and eventually issuing citations. 

MORE: San Francisco Board of Supervisors approve legislation requiring street vendors have permits

"If they're out here selling stolen goods we don't want them out here," said Beth Rubenstein from SFDPW. "We don't want to be supporting that kind of illegal activity and don't want to ruin it for the vendors who are actually trying to make a living and do a good thing in the community."

Supervisor Ronen's office said they know times are tough, and say the new law is also aimed at giving those vendors selling items they made or bought legitimately, the tools they need to run a business. 

"Through this budget process going on right now, [we] hope to fund resources for the vendors to perhaps get them to a place where they can get to a brick and mortar," said Lerma.

At this point, the emphasis is still on education and warning those trafficking in stolen merchandise. 

The DPW didn't seize any of the goods KTVU saw at 24th and Mission and they haven't yet issued any citations since the regulations for exactly how that will be done are still being ironed out.