Tourists' wedding photos retrieved after being stolen on SF honeymoon

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It's no secret that San Francisco has a car burglary epidemic. In the first half of this year, the city experienced a nearly 50 percent spike in auto burglaries. KTVU spoke to some recent victims: newlyweds from New York on their honeymoon in San Francisco.

Their wedding photos were stolen, but somehow police were able to track them down.

New Yorkers Frank Albani and his wife Melissa had just gotten married in New York and had come to San Francisco for their honeymoon Thanksgiving week.

"We did Golden Gate, Muir Woods," Frank Albani said, "We did so much while we were out there, it was the best time." But on the Albani's last day, in the South of Market District, someone stole the couple's $1,800 camera loaded with irreplaceable pictures.

"We were so sad," Albani told KTVU via Skype, "We enjoyed the city so much, it's a terrible way to end such an amazing week. To end on that note was really heartbreaking." The Albini's were on their way to SFO International Airport to head back to Long Island when they stopped at a restaurant near 11th and Bryant for lunch. They say when they came out, they noticed their car was broken into.

"The glass was completely shattered and we were just in disbelief, said Albani. "My wife was saying let's drive around and see if we can find the guy and I said we're not finding him, there's no way. Those pictures are gone forever; we'll never have a chance to get that back."

Just when the Albani's thought they'd never see their wedding pictures again, the next day, police officers noticed a man acting suspiciously in the Mission District.

"Our police officers were patrolling on 22nd and Hampshire when they noticed this white male standing there on the corner," said SFPD Officer Carlos Manfredi. "When they went to approach him, the suspect did an about-face and then started to walk the other direction. Well, this drew some suspicion so our officers did the right thing.

Officers discovered the man was on probation so police were allowed to search his backpack.
"They found a stolen laptop and a stolen camera," said Officer Manfredi, "and the SD card in that camera with the actual proposal, the wedding, and the honeymoon pictures."

30-year-old Donald Hall was booked on auto burglary related charges. Police say he's been charged several times in the past for similar crimes; and that's just in San Francisco.

An officer called Albani and his wife with the news: the $4,000 camera and laptop were safe.

Albani was overjoyed, " I was just taken back you can't explain that feeling. You feel like you're on top of the world at that moment and I can't remember feeling like that my whole life." Except, of course when he got married, he said.

The couple says SFPD gave them the best wedding gift ever.

"We're a couple from NY but for them to do that for us all the way out in San Francisco and put in their hard work and make it worthwhile for us, you know, just changed everything."

The Albani's plan to put the photos in an album to share with their children someday.