As vehicle break-ins and theft continue to skyrocket in San Francisco, some residents of the California city are taking drastic measures to prevent their windows from being smashed and make theft easier, including leaving their car doors and windows open.
“I’m shocked,” said former SFPD Deputy Chief Garret Tom, as reported by ABC 7 on Wednesday. “There’s so much that can go wrong here.”
Images shared by ABC 7 showed multiple SUVs parked in the San Francisco area with their trunks completely open. Car owners believe the move could save them from thieves who are known for breaking car windows to steal personal belongings.
“It doesn’t really surprise me,” Oakland’s Interim Deputy Police Chief Drennon Lindsey said in response to the move.
“Imagine having to clean out your car and leaving it open in public, just so people won’t break your windows. Oakland, we looking sad, man,” said one person in Oakland, roughly 12 miles from San Francisco.
Both San Francisco and Oakland have seen a rise in car break-ins in 2021 when compared to last year. Authorities in San Francisco have reported as much as a 32 percent jump in break-ins, while Oakland police reported a 27 percent increase in break-ins and car theft.
In addition to increasing patrols in busy areas during the holiday season, police are warning residents not to leave their trunks and windows open.
“Don’t leave valuables in the car, don’t even tuck things under your seat,” Lindsey advised, adding that thieves are using devices to detect if electronic items are hiding in the car.
“They could steal your batteries, your tires,” Tom warned. “They could go into your glove compartment and find out where you live.”
“We’re in different times… that’s unbelievable,” he added.
Democrat Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland is asking residents to install security cameras in their cars to help law enforcement track criminals.
“Pointing the cameras toward the street and register it with the Oakland Police Department,” she said.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed took his response to the crime wave a step further, promising to become “more aggressive with law enforcement.”
“It’s time that the reign of criminals who are destroying our city, it is time for it to come to an end,” Breed said. “And it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement … and less tolerant of all the bulls— that has destroyed our city.”
In addition to car-related crime, San Francisco is seeing frequent so-called smash-and-grab robberies, which have impacted dozens of retailers. During one robbery, around 80 people stormed a Nordstrom, stealing nearly $100,000 in products.
“We probably saw 50 to 80 people in ski masks, crowbars, a bunch of weapons. They were looting the Nordstrom’s right here. And I thought they were going to start beating cars. I had to start locking doors, lock the front door, lock the back door,” witness Brett Barrette told KGO.