More than 150 families living in San Francisco have hired private security to patrol their streets amid brazen property crimes, with some saying they no longer feel safe in their own neighborhood.
“We don’t feel safe in our neighborhood,” resident Katie Lyons, told CBS SF. “And we have an alarm, we have cameras on our property, but we want the extra security of having someone have eyes on our place.”
Lyons and other families hired patrol special officer Alan Byard to help patrol the streets of the city’s Marina District following repeated instances of car break-ins and home burglaries.
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“It’s a nice area down here, people are afraid of what’s been going on,” said Byard. “They want a safe place to raise their kids. In the last year, I’ve had 10 of my clients move out of the city.”
Patrol Special Officers are overseen by the police commission as they work in their capacity as private security, CBS SF reported.
Byard explained that he patrols the Marina District in his car from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. looking for suspicious people. He charges $65 per residence each month.
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He added that his business from residential clients has doubled since the coronavirus pandemic, starting with 70 families and growing to 150 families in the Marina District alone.
Another Marina District resident, Allan Brown has lived in the area for 20 years and was asked whether crime has gotten worse in recent days.
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“Oh absolutely, absolutely. This place used to be – nothing would ever happen here,” he responded.
Lyons added that it’s not uncommon to see stolen property outside her home, and noted she doesn’t walk with a purse outside at night.
“Especially at night, I don’t walk with a purse, I’ll drive, or I’ll take an Uber, and it’s beginning to become a daytime problem too,” added Lyons.
Car burglaries are the biggest problem for the area, Byard told CBS SF, while petty theft and burglaries are also common.
The city’s Central District, which includes tourist hotspots such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown, struggled with a staggering 753% increase in car break-ins from May 2020 to May 2021.
Instances of the crime have continued over the summer and into the fall. Just last week, a person was seen on video breaking car windows in the city’s Fisherman’s Wharf area, and stealing items from the vehicles.
A TikTok star and Australian singer-songwriter visiting the city also said last week that he was robbed at gunpoint in the Marina District, with the suspects taking equipment from his parked car.
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San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, announced an up to $100,000 reward last Tuesday for information to help identify, arrest and convict the perpetrators behind the crimes. While the mayor was speaking, a couple visiting the city from Seattle fell victim to such a crime just a few blocks away.
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“This happened just a few blocks from where mayor @LondonBreed announced a new plan to cut back on break-ins in #SanFrancisco. The couple is visiting from Seattle,” local ABC reporter Lyanne Melendez wrote in a tweet of the incident, accompanied by photos.