San Francisco unveils new tactics to combat car break-ins

San Francisco leaders touted their latest tactics in the ongoing war against auto-burglaries. Some of the major changes are in the 22 city operated parking garages. 

The Stockton-Sutter garage has been the frequent hunting grounds for auto burglars. So many that regular customers take precautions. " I don't feel in jeopardy, but I don't leave things in my car either," said John Fitch.

Since the beginning of the year the city has added a network of cameras, fences and has a San Francisco police officer regularly patrol the garage.

Since then auto burglaries have plummeted 83%, down from 44 in January to just nine last month.

"This is an area, our own city garages where we can lead by example," said Mayor Mark Farrell. "We can control this property and we can focus on areas that are going to work on car break-ins." 

And drivers are noticing. "They did make steps, I see the cops in here in the morning, I start at 4 in the morning so, they're doing the right steps," said Fitch.

Meanwhile, the District Attorney says his office is using every tool at its disposal to prosecute auto burglars. On Tuesday, taking the unusual step of using an 18 count grand jury indictment, saying Deshawn Patton is a repeat burglar who was able to slip through the cracks for at least two years.

"We're ready to try this case, we're ready to take it to trial," said  Shirin Oloumi-Knerr. "So, that's why we wanted to push the case forward."

The District Attorney said bringing a Grand Jury indictment is time consuming, taking weeks to gather together all the materials and to convince the Grand Jury to indict.

That's part of the reason his office is asking for an additional million dollars; to beef up a special unit in the prosecutors office targeting auto-burglars using every tool to prosecute offenders.

"Every component of the system has to work well," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. "The mayor and his people have to make sure there's sufficient funding to do the work. The police department and the District Attorney have to work well together. We both have to have the resources to do our work."

San Francisco's mayor said he stands ready to meet with the district attorney.

"Look I'm glad he's talking to you about it, all we've seen from him at the Mayor's office is a letter. He's issuing press releases and talking to reporters about it, that's fine. But, from my point of view I'm only going to fund things I know are going to work," said Farrell.

The District Attorney office said it handed over a study five weeks ago specifically examining auto burglaries in parking garages and he said he's happy they city is cracking down in those areas.

The mayor said he wants to build on the successes he's already seen in this garage and replicate it in the rest of the city's 22 garages.