SF supervisor says lack of tourists has criminals now targeting residents

A San Francisco neighborhood is shaken after a close call with a would-be theft was captured on surveillance cameras appearing to case vehicles outside a home in Bernal Heights.

"You can basically see him in the video with the flashlight, you know, going in, looking at the different inside cars and trying to kind of open the door and break into them," said Ben Couillard.

Couillard owns the house where the burglar was seen peering into vehicles, but was away and had a house sitter watching over the property.

He said the house sitter came face-to-face with the suspicious person who had turned his attention away from the vehicles and to the house.

"So she saw him through the window and basically when she asked him, you know, 'Can I help you?' Like, what are you doing as he's trying to break in? And he said to her, like, 'Go upstairs, (expletive) or I'll kill you."

Couillard said after three years of relative calm, the area where he lives near Peralta and Powhattan has been hit with a lot of crime lately including grand theft auto and garage burglaries.

In November, he said an armed burglar robbed his house while he and his wife were home.

"I have a baby on the way, like where this happens when we're at home with our child. It's pretty unsettling," Couillard said.

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen, District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and the captain of the police department overseeing the area, held a virtual town hall with residents of the community Wednesday night to address their concerns.

They attribute what they say is an increase in crime to "economic desperation" and "tourism has gone down so substantially in San Francisco that criminal rings that targeted tourists in areas that tourists frequent no longer have tourists there," said Supervisor Ronen.

Couillard would like to see proactive measures such as an increase in patrols by San Francisco police officers and that he wasn’t overly encouraged by the town hall meeting because it lacked concrete plans of action to reduce crime in the neighborhood.

"I think we want to love our neighborhood. We love our neighbors. We don't want to let these sort of lowlifes scare us away."

Supervisor Ronen posted: "My office will continue to work closely with our SFPD Captain and his Bernal beat officers and with our new District Attorney Community Liaison. If you need help in complex situations, please reach out to us by phone at 415.554.5144 or email at RonenStaff@sfgov.org."