San Francisco District Attorney claims that only 13 arrests have been made in 7 years related to auto break-ins
In late January, officials with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office claimed that only 13 of the over 81,000 online reports of auto break-ins that victims filed in the past seven years resulted in arrests. The number of vehicle break-ins has increased dramatically with over 30,000 car break-ins reported in San Francisco last year. That is a large amount of vehicle break-ins compared to the less than 11,000 vehicle break-ins in 2011. There are so many vehicle break-ins that victims have been increasingly directed to file reports online or call 311 rather than filing in person. David Stevenson, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, stated,
We are committed to trying new strategies to effectively address this pervasive problem that impacts our city and other cities throughout the region.
According to San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, it’s not practical for officers to show up and investigate every case when an average of 85 auto break-ins a day occur in San Francisco, and there is often little evidence left at the scene to collect. Because of this, 62 percent of the cases from 2011 to 2017 were filed online. According to the District Attorney’s data, police still arrested 446 people for auto burglary from January to November of 2017, but only one suspect was linked to an online report. Recently, the San Francisco Police Department has tried to decrease the number of vehicle break-ins by increasing foot patrols in problem areas around the city and by assigning specialized units and creating neighborhood stations focused on investigating property crime.
Former San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, who resigned after several controversial police shootings, attributed much of the increase in property crime when he was in charge to recent statewide criminal justice reform efforts such as Proposition 47. The proposition was passed in November 2014 and reduced six nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors, while raising the threshold for felony theft up to $950. Auto break-ins remain felonies under Proposition 47, but arresting a suspect for breaking into an automobile has been a challenge for law enforcement agencies around the nation for a long time. However, according to a study by Californians for Safety and Justice, property crime numbers statewide have seen little change since Proposition 47 was passed. Hopefully, San Francisco is able to solve the vehicle break-in issue.