Vandals hit San Francisco businesses already struggling to stay afloat during COVID

San Francisco police are searching for the suspects who targeted several businesses around the city, breaking windows and stealing what they could. 

The businesses said it couldn't have come at a worse time.

Many restaurants are already struggling as the COVID shutdown looms on and now they're looking to repair broken windows and replace what the thieves took. 

Underdogs Tres in the Inner Sunset managed to get up and running after someone broke in early Wednesday morning. 

"They got a bunch of computer equipment, tablets, took our registers, and a lot of booze," said general manager Elpidio Sy.

Underdogs Tres was hardly the only victim. Burglars targeted about a half dozen restaurants in all.

Among them was Pacific Catch, Kiki Japanese, and Pasquale's Pizza. The burglaries happened in the same vicinity. Surveillance cameras captured images of at least one of the thieves.

Business owners said they're frustrated they have to deal with burglars on top of the blow they've been dealt by the shelter in place orders.

"It already set us back on top of the setbacks that we're already experiencing," said Sy.

Many of the restaurants that were targeted sit in Supervisor Dean Preston's district. He said he shares the restaurants' frustration. 

"A lot of these businesses were struggling before the pandemic. Now their revenue has been chopped in half or two-thirds and they're struggling to survive," said Preston. "You throw on top of that potentially thousands of dollars lost because of vandalism and theft and it creates an insurmountable burden for small businesses."

The supervisor directed the restaurants to a city program that helps small businesses replace glass broken by vandals or thieves. 

"Their windows are smashed, usually it costs them and usually a thousand dollars is the standard deductible, then your insurance kicks in," Preston said. "But, a thousand bucks right now when these businesses are on the ropes, is a significant hardship in and of itself."

The restaurants targeted in the break-ins said what they need most is support from their community and urged people to shop and eat local. 

"I think just by instilling the old neighborhood policy of looking out for each other and being aware that this kind of activity is ongoing," said Sy.

San Francisco police said they are still working to identify the culprits and ask anyone with additional videos of information to come forward.