Sunset Residents Urged to be on Lookout After String of Home Burglaries Hit Area
May 5, 2005 10:52 AM
The San Francisco Police Department has urged Sunset district residents to be on the lookout after a string of home burglaries hit the area.
According to inspector Lou Bronfeld of the department's burglary unit, over 100 incidents have occurred within the last seven months. The homes most frequently targeted are those with 1940s or 1950s style “tunnel entrances” with gates that lead to recessed patios. Burglars have found a way to quickly pry open the old gates by inserting a pry bar in the half-inch gap between the gate and the frame and “giving a good tug,” said Bronfeld.
Once beyond the gate, burglars are in the recessed interior patio that is hidden from view of the street or other neighbors. Once there, thieves have ample time to break open locked doors and enter the home. Inside the home, burglars go straight for the master bedroom and grab small items and cash, Bronfeld said.
“People have lost thousands and thousands of dollars worth of valuables and precious keepsakes,” said Bronfeld.
Police said they believe the burglars wait and watch people leave their house, then approach and ring the doorbell located outside most gates. If nobody answers, “the pry bar comes out and in a matter of seconds ... they’re in,” said Bronfeld.
The inspector also said these crimes occur during the daytime and take less than 10 minutes to commit.
SF State student and Sunset resident Katie Sharp, 24, said she does not feel particularly threatened by the rash of burglaries.
“I feel like our neighborhood is pretty safe,” said Sharp, an English literature major. “I’m not too worried. (My roommates) will just make sure that everyone locks the door.”
Danielle Roth, a fellow Sunset resident, agreed with Sharp.
“I don’t really feel threatened,” said Roth, a graduate of SF State. “People are shady and people do stupid things, but you can’t really worry about it all the time. I don’t have anything too valuable just lying out.”
However, Bronfeld said residents should be concerned and on high alert due to the high number of these incidents. He recommended residents drive a few blocks and then circle back by their house to make sure nobody is acting suspiciously near their home.
Another way to prevent these break-ins, according to Bronfeld, is to have a strip of iron welded over the gap to reinforce the gate and make it difficult to apply a pry bar. Bronfeld said this should cost about $200. Another option is to replace old gates with newer, sturdier models, which run roughly $1,000. Additional home security devices such as alarm systems are also recommended, said Bronfeld.
“These criminals are looking for the path of least resistance,” said Bronfeld. “They don’t want to spend a lot of time working on the entry.”
Police said they believe the crooks are working in pairs, due to separate sets of glove prints lifted from the crime scenes. Police also said they believe there are at least two teams performing these break-ins.
Witnesses have reported seeing a pair of young Asian males in a black compact car, or a male-female pair of white “hippy looking” individuals on more than one occasion, Bronfeld said.
Bronfeld said the police is relying heavily on vigilant neighbors to put an end to these daylight break-ins.
“We are asking for the public’s help to maintain watchfulness,” said Bronfeld. “With a well-timed phone call we can catch these guys.”
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