Tenderloin jazz club pillaged, owners disappointed with SFPD response

Surveillance video shows how thieves took their time stealing from a San Francisco Tenderloin jazz club early Tuesday after a man shattered the glass of the club's front door with a skateboard. He's also captured on video.

Owners of San Francisco's Black Cat say they're disappointed with the police response. The theft was just one of two crimes to happen at the scene of the club on 400 Eddy Street within hours. Ironically, the SFPD Tenderloin Station is about a block away across the street.

Adam Chapman, the club's operations director, said he's disappointed with what happened and the police response. He said it started as a vandalism and ended in what looked like a "free-for-all" of people coming and going, taking whatever they wanted. 

On Friday night, the live music at the supper club did not miss a beat, despite surviving an 18-month pandemic shutdown, and now vandalism and burglary.

"It's just a battle to keep our business alive," said Chapman. The man seen on video breaking the front door runs off. It happened at around 1:15 a.m. Not long after, people started burglarizing the club. 

The video captures the moment SFPD officers arrive. One says "SFPD. Come out with your hands up," as he stands outside the front door. 

Police arrive just over an hour after the glass was shattered. They were alerted by a witness. San Francisco Fire Department said they responded at the request of SFPD as a courtesy. The fire department temporarily covered the shattered front door. 

Police said they made multiple attempts to contact a representative of the business but were unsuccessful. 

After police and the fire department left, people can be seen inside the club stealing again. 

"It's not like they have to secure it, but at least to not come back and check on it again is very disheartening," said Chapman. He said more than 20 people burglarized the club for hours until an employee came at 7 a.m. to find shattered glass and empty shelves. 

"I kinda feel violated a little bit, right? It's like your place, your space, this is like my second home. I'm here all the time," said Chapman. 

Black Cat, living its proverbial nine lives, did not close a day despite what happened. There's no damage to the inside of the club. 

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"That would have been catastrophic. We have a lot of like really nice things in here. You know they could have broken things, they could have spray-painted. Really it was just a cash grab," Chapman said. He said stolen items include; alcohol, food, musical equipment and instruments. The estimated loss is $25,000 to $50,000.

Chapman said it's important to have this club thrive in the Tenderloin as a space for young jazz musicians. 

"After something like this happens at the Black Cat, it's not going to happen again. I don't see it. I think that they're probably gonna, you know, figure out ways to make sure something like that doesn't happen again," Kassa Overall said. He's a drummer and vocalist performing at the club through the weekend.

Chapman said the club is adding additional security measures. SFPD said they're currently working on creating policy to better address these types of incidents.