San Francisco police search for thieves involved in violent Chinatown purse snatching

San Francisco Police are looking for the people behind a violent purse snatching caught on a surveillance camera in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Sunday morning.

The incident took place at 9 a.m. as the 55 year-old woman was walking into the Stockton Street Tunnel at Sacramento Street. 

Surveillance video captured from a camera on the street shows a dark-colored sedan stopping and an occupant hopping out of the vehicle.

After a few seconds out of frame, the man is seen dragging the woman on the ground in an apparent effort to take the purse she is holding. 

“A physical struggle ensued which caused the victim to fall to the ground. The suspect then dragged that victim and was trying to grab that purse from the victim,” said Officer Robert Rueca with the San Francisco Police Department. 

Video then shows a second man jump from the same car to assist his apparent cohort as they ripped the purse from the woman who was on the ground. Authorities say she suffered minor injuries in the attack. 

“We do ask for victims to comply with violent incidents such as a robbery. In this case, she may have been complying. She may have not been able to remove her belongings from her in time,” Rueca said on Thursday.

The City of San Francisco last year installed 18 new cameras in Chinatown because of a rash of crimes. Signs warn that the area is under surveillance, but the thieves in this case don’t notice them or didn’t care.

Business owners tell KTVU they’ve already seen a dip in people coming to Chinatown because of the coronavirus, and that crimes such as Sunday’s purse-snatching don’t help to lure new patrons. 

“Chinatown is a good area to visit. It has a lot of history here and this happening will hurt a lot of businesses,” said Ed Siu, owner of Classics Tours Travel Agency on Stockton Street. 

San Francisco Police say they do not believe the crime was racially motivated and are asking anyone who can assist in the ongoing investigation to contact the SFPD 24 Hour Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or text-a-tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.