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Police Blotter – August 30, 2013

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of August 30, 2013. To be added to the station's mailing list, email sfpd.richmond.station@sfgov.org.]

Wednesday, I attended the Chief’s third annual Summit which was attended by 300 officers from around the Bay Area. This year’s topic was school shooters/shootings and the guest speaker was Michael Kehoe, the Chief of Police in Newtown, Connecticut who gave a moving speech about what occurred in Newtown on December 14, 2012. Chief Richard Beary of the University of Central Florida shared how police were able to foil the attack of a student who was heavily armed and preparing to shoot his roommate and classmates. I have been working on a response template for school violence since December of 2012. My work was showcased at the event and it is being rolled out with the new smart phones that officers in the SFPD are receiving. After months of collaboration with the FBI, retired experts Dan Linehan and Ed Cota, it was exciting to see the fruits of my labor shared amongst law enforcement agencies. I must applaud our local schools for the effort they have put forth in working with me and my staff to make this template a reality. I have asked a lot of our school principals over the summer, during their spring breaks and throughout the year and they have been a tremendous resource to us.

Our next Community meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 6pm. It will be in the Community Room, here at Richmond Station, 461 6th Ave.

On 08/23/13 at 6:30am on the 6100 block of Geary and employee arrived to work and found that the padlock which had been securing the front door had been cut off. Upon entering the business she could see that the office door had been pried open. The suspect had taken a tool box and cash. On 08/25/13 the suspect was identified by Richmond Station Inspectors and an alert was put out with the suspect’s information. On 08/26/13 at 12:50pm, the suspect was located at 26th and Geary Sts. The 49 year old male was charged with burglary and a probation violation.

On 08/23/13 at 8:30pm, an employee of a restaurant on the 800 block of Clement was sitting a table doing his homework on his laptop. He got up from the table to deliver a food order and as he was returning another customer told him the suspect had just taken his laptop. The suspect, who had been in the restaurant, and placed his own food order, west on Clement St. The victim ran out and saw the suspect and along with another employee, confronted the suspect. He denied taking the laptop and while denying this, the victim’s laptop slid out from under his sweatshirt. The victim grabbed the laptop and the officers arrived on scene. The 29 year old male was charged with burglary and possession of stolen property.

On 08/28/13 at 11:35pm, officers were called to Post and Pierce Sts on a report of a possible drunk driver trying to leave the area in a vehicle. The caller reported that he saw the suspect kick the driver’s side door in and then kick out a window. The suspect then opened the door and got inside. The caller was reporting that the suspect was intoxicated and he was using his own vehicle to block the suspect in so he couldn’t drive away. The suspect then got out of the vehicle with CD’s in his hand and began to walk away. The officers arrived on scene and detained the male. As they were speaking to the witness, the owner of the vehicle arrived. He informed the officers that he did not know the suspect, nor did he have permission to be in his vehicle. He said that the CD’s belonged to him and officers also recovered a pay stub in the suspect’s possession that had the victim’s name on it. The 30 year old male was charged with vandalism, burglary of an auto and possession of stolen property.

On 08/29/13 at 12:30pm, officers were called to Star of the Sea Church on the 4400 block of Geary. The caller was reporting that a male was in the church stealing from the donation box and this was an ongoing problem. Officers arrived and detained the suspect on the 700 block of Clement St. The caller told the officers that over the last two months the suspect had been seen stealing from the donation box at least 12 times. This was often witnessed by elderly parishioners. Today one of the parishioners alerted the staff that the suspect was in the church. When the staff member entered he saw the suspect put a tool into the slot of the box and was fishing out cash. The 44 year old male was charged with the theft.

On 08/23/13 between 2:40am and 3:30am on the 2300 block of Sutter, a suspect entered a business by prying open the front door. The suspect took medication.

Between 08/23/13, 8pm and 08/24/13, 8am on the 2800 block of California St, a suspect used a ladder to get to a second story window. The suspect broke the window but appeared not to have entered there due to the small size of the window and the pieces of broken glass still left in the frame. The suspect did enter by some other unknown means and took cash from a cabinet.

On 08/25/13 at 11:35pm, the victim was walking south on 25th Ave and was crossing over Fulton when he observed the suspects at 26th and Fulton. As the victim continued the suspects approached him, with one holding a knife. They told the suspect to give up his phone and wallet. The victim said he had no wallet and only had $5. The suspect then took his money and his cell phone. The suspects were described as two black males, 20-25yrs, both wearing all black clothing and one had a red baseball cap. They fled east on Fulton.

On 08/25/13 at 11:40pm, the victim was waiting for a bus at 23rd and Balboa Sts. The two suspects approached him from opposite directions and one of them asked what the time was. The victim gave him the time and immediately knew that something was wrong as the digital display at the bus stop was showing the current time. The victim began to walk away and was followed by the suspects. One of them punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. The other suspect kicked him and searched his pockets taking his cell phone and wallet. They fled east on Balboa St. They were described as two black males, one 16-18yrs, the other 20-25yrs. The younger suspect was wearing a black baseball cap and black clothing.

On 08/26/13 between 5pm and 6:45pm, on the 2300 block of Bush St, a suspect entered an apartment building by unknown means. The suspect then entered an unlocked apartment and took a laptop, e-reader and two cameras.

On 08/28/13 at 4:15pm two males entered a business on the 3200 block of Balboa St. One of the males engaged the employee in conversation while the other wandered the store. When the two left she discovered her cell phone was missing. The suspects were described as two white males, 35-40yrs with one suspect wearing dark nail polish, a red shirt and dark colored jeans. He was also wearing white contact lenses. The second was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans.

On 08/30/13 at 3:10am on the 6000 block of Geary, an employee of a gas station heard a loud noise outside his window. When he looked out he observed the suspect kneeling in front of the stand alone ATM machine with the door open. The suspect then got up with a lock box in his hand and fled north on 24th Ave. The suspect appeared to have forced open the first door and drilled a hole into a locking mechanism. It is unknown how much cash, if any was in the lock box. The suspect was a white male 35-40 years wearing a red baseball hat and a red and black 49er jacket.

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 1:59 pm | Posted under Crime | Comments Off

Balboa near its $75k fundraising goal to digitize; thanks donors on marquee

The Balboa Theater is making great progress with their Kickstarter “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign to raise money to digitize one of their two theaters.

The $75,000 campaign began on August 3 and with 27 days to go, they have raised nearly $62,000 (82% of goal).

In a unique twist, the theater is thanking random donors with its marquee, splashing names between the currently running movies. Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise to drive down the street and see your name up in lights?

Kickstarters are proving to be an effective way for local businesses to get support from residents. Cassava Bakery, just down the street from the Balboa, recently raised $30,020 to fund a new outdoor, heated patio.

Assuming the Balboa reaches its goals, that’s over $100,000 that will be pumped into two neighborhood businesses in a 3 month period. Who says the Richmond District is apathetic? ;)

The Balboa Theater’s Kickstarter campaign has 27 days to go – good luck to them!

Sarah B.

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 9:39 am | Posted under Business | 5 comments

Amy Stewart at Conservatory with new book, “The Drunken Botanist”, Oct. 3

You might remember the Conservatory of Flowers exhibition in 2011 called “Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues and Assassins”, which was inspired by author Amy Stewart’s book of the same name that chronicles dozens of infamous plants that have left their mark on history and claimed many an unfortunate victim.

Stewart is back with a new botanical tome entitled The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks. In this new book, Stewart explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, tree, fruits, and fungi that humans have contrived to transform into alcohol.

On Thursday, October 3rd, the Conservatory of Flowers will host a special evening with the author that features botanical cocktails, tips for creating your own “cocktail garden,” and a reading and book signing with Amy herself.

The evening begins with an intimate and exclusive 20-person tour of the Conservatory, led by Amy and featuring complementary cocktails made by Lillet and Hendricks, and inspired by the botanical cocktail recipes in The Drunken Botanist.

A larger presentation and book signing will follow in the Conservatory’s Orchid Pavilion from 7 to 9pm, also with complementary cocktails.

This is a 21+ event, and tickets are $35 for Conservatory members, $40 for non-members. Space is limited so be sure to purchase your tickets online in advance.

Sarah B.

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 5:05 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park | Comments Off

Who’s watching you? A map of security cameras in the neighborhood

We got an email last week about a new initiative called CommunityCam. It’s a website that maps out the video security cameras at businesses across San Francisco. Camera locations are crowdsourced, e.g. the information is provided by members of the community.

We entered 94118 into the search field and were surprised at how many teardrop locators appeared on the map. Not surprisingly, most are concentrated along the commercial corridors of Clement Street and Geary Boulevard.

When you click on a locator icon, it will show you the exact street address of where the cam is located, but does not include the name of the business/building, or any information about what the security camera is monitoring. It’s unclear if these cameras are monitoring just the interior, or also the exterior of businesses.

CommunityCam says they have mapped over 1,000 private and business security cameras in San Francisco. Their objective is “to make the community safer by providing local citizens and law enforcement with the tools necessary in the unfortunate event of a crime. If something does happen, people can look at the map to find out whether the crime may have been caught by local surveillance cameras.”

In the Boston Marathon bombing, it was grainy photos from a video camera outside a business that led to the initial identification of the suspects.

But video surveillance cameras are controversial – some people feel they are an invasion of privacy, while others believe them necessary to effectively police communities.

London, England is a big proponent. Their “Ring of Steel” surveillance system set up in 1998 uses nearly a half million cameras, roadblocks and license plate readers to monitor central London. They can track anyone going into or out of the area.

New York has a similar system called the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative. It monitors 4,000 security cameras and license plate readers south of Canal Street. The project uses feeds from both private and public security cameras, which are are monitored 24 hours a day by the NYPD.

Although CommunityCam is attempting to document where video cameras are in the neighborhood, we’re a long way from those feeds being monitored in real-time, in a centralized fashion like they do in London or New York.

We toured the Richmond District police station a few years ago and they still had a dot matrix printer next to their computer terminal. So don’t expect SFPD to begin monitoring your movements around the neighborhood anytime soon.

We found the CommunityCam website to be a bit buggy – it worked best in Google Chrome for us. Keep in mind this crowdsourced project is being promoted by a for-profit video surveillance company in Portland, Oregon that sells equipment.

San Francisco is the second city in the CommunityCam project. And while an (free) account is required to add a camera to the map, there doesn’t appear to be any verification for whether the cameras really do exist.

But assuming this data is accurate, how do you feel knowing there are dozens of security cameras in the neighborhood that may be capturing your activity? Does it make you feel safer, or more paranoid? Leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.

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 5:10 am | Posted under Crime | 12 comments

Video: A look at the newly renovated, $4.5M Cabrillo Playground

On June 3, Cabrillo Playground reopened after a $4.5 million remodel that included the renovation of the historic clubhouse, a complete overhaul of the children’s play area, resurfaced sport courts, a new picnic area, repaved paths, new lighting, improved accessibility and new landscaping.

SF Rec & Park shot some video of the pirate-themed grand opening celebration – check it out above. The park and its neighbors have never looked so good!

Now if we could just get Commissioner Buell to pronounce “Cabrillo” (:44) correctly… :)

Sarah B.

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 3:35 pm | Posted under Parks | 10 comments

In case you were wondering…

A window at 25th & Geary. Photo by xxriabellaxx

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 10:17 am | Posted under Photos | Comments Off

Traffic island being replaced at California/Cornwall & 7th Avenue

Photo by Roz A.

Reader Roz A. sent us the above photo today of work being done on the traffic island along California Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

The island separates traffic between Cornwall and California Streets. Cornwall runs parallel to California from 7th Avenue up to Arguello Boulevard.

While she was there taking the photo, Roz witnessed an accident. She says the intersection is a difficult one and staff at Ashley’s Cafe on the northeast corner see about 2 accidents per week.

“It seems pretty negligent to not have some sort of stop or traffic calming. The fact that the stop sign is at 7th & Cornwall instead of at the island makes it confusing for drivers, I think. They have a tiny ped xing sign at the island on Cornwall & California, but i think it’s too low for drivers to see it,” Roz wrote in an email to us.

We’re not sure if the new traffic island will be any different or when it will be completed. But be on the lookout for construction crews, and keep your eyes peeled at that intersection!

Sarah B.

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 1:47 pm | Posted under Traffic | 9 comments

Police Blotter – August 23, 2013 | GGP tree vandal arrested again

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of August 23, 2013. To be added to the station's mailing list, email sfpd.richmond.station@sfgov.org.]

Richmond Station Officers are leaving no stone unturned as we work to arrest offenders responsible for a series of robberies in the area bordering Divisadero to Presidio and Sacramento to Geary Blvd. Officers and Investigators are working with bordering districts saturating the area to apprehend these criminals. Our team has been interviewing witnesses, reviewing surveillance video and comparing notes with our neighboring districts in search of these persons.

We continue to ask that you pay attention to your surroundings, walk with your head up and not be distracted by your mobile devices. Also we are able to track your phone if it is taken and has not been turned off, so please remember your password to your application.

Our next Community meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 6pm. It will be in the Community Room, here at Richmond Station, 461 6th Ave.

On 08/18/13 at 7:30pm, officers responded to MLK Drive and Chain of Lakes Drive on a report of a male being detained for vandalizing trees in the park. Golden Gate Park rangers had been informed by a passerby that this male was breaking off the branches of the trees. The rangers searched the area and located the suspect still breaking branches. This was the same suspect who was arrested in Golden Gate Park on 07/10/13 for the same thing. The 65 year old was charged with vandalism.

On 08/19/13 at 5:30pm, the victim was standing at Sutter and Divisadero waiting for her ride. She had placed her purse on the bench next to her along with another bag. She had her back to the bench and suddenly realized her purse was no longer there. She looked down the street and saw the suspect running with her purse in his hands. As she yelled for help several people came to her aid. One woman sitting in her car got out and ran after the suspect and grabbed him when another male arrived on scene, she thought it was another witness coming to help but it was a friend of the suspect. The woman backed off and at this point several security guards from the medical center came out and detained both males. The two suspects, a 17 year old and a 20 year old where charged with theft from a person. The 17 year old was also charged with threats as he told the security guard he was going to kill him.

On 08/20/13 at 4:36pm, officers were dispatched to the area of 19th Ave and Geary on a report of a stolen vehicle that was being tracked by GPS. Dispatched continued to update the officers as to the direction of the vehicle and that it was now south bound on Park Presidio Blvd and it eventually stopped on Irving St between 19th and 20th Aves. Officer located the vehicle and two occupants and detained them. The two males, one 27yrs, the other 35yrs were charged with stolen auto.

On 08/17/13 between 12am and 6:30am on the 3700 block of Clay St a suspect entered a home while the residents were asleep. The suspect took an iPad and 2 bowls. The victims believe the back door was left unlocked.

On 08/17/13 between 6:30pm and 6:45pm on the 2500 block of Pine St, a suspect entered a garage and took a bike. The victim was outside at the time unloading his truck and had left the garage door open.

On 08/17/13 at 11:30pm, the two victims were walking on Bush near Divisadero. One of the victim’s was looking at her cell phone for directions when they were suddenly approached by the suspect. He pulled up his sweatshirt and showed them that he had a gun in his waistband and told the victim to give him her phone. The victim complied and the suspect fled south on Divisadero St. He was described as a black male, 20-25yrs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

On 08/18/13 at 12:40am, the victim was walking on Scott St towards California and noticed the suspects on the opposite side of the street. The suspects then crossed over to the victim with one suspect in front and the other behind. One of the suspects pulled out a handgun and demanded the victim’s phone and the victim complied. The suspects fled east on California St. One suspect was described as a black male, wearing a dark jacket and black pants. The other suspect was a Hispanic male, 20-22yrs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants.

On 08/18/13 at 2:37am, the victim was walking on the 3400 block of Sacramento St and was approached by the suspect. The suspect pointed a handgun at the victim and demanded his property. The victim handed over his backpack which contained his laptop, along with his phone and wallet. The suspect then fled to an older model tan vehicle which fled north on Walnut St. The suspect was a black male, 20-25yrs wearing a navy colored sweatshirt and had short dreadlocks.

On 08/18/13 at 4:35pm, on the 1700 block of Broderick, the four victims were taking pictures of each other when the two suspects approached. The first suspect was smiling and the victims were going to ask them to take a photo of them. One of the suspects suddenly grabbed one of the girls from behind and pointed a handgun at them. He said “this is no joke” and demanded all of their phones. The other suspect grabbed one of the phones from the victim’s hand while the other two victims handed their phones over. The suspects then fled east on Pine St. One suspect was described as a Hispanic male, 25yrs, wearing a black pea coat and a white baseball cap with a black brim. The other suspect was a black male, 26yrs, with a “buzz cut” hair style, wearing a dark coat and dark jeans.

Between 08/19/13, 8pm and 08/20/13, 6:45am on the 500 block of 16th Ave a suspect entered a garage of a multi-unit building and took a bike. There were no signs of forced entry.

On 08/21/13 at 8:20pm, the victim who had been walking in Golden Gate Park was returning to his vehicle which was parked on JFK Drive near Chain of Lakes Drive. As he got close he heard a loud crash and looked in the direction of his vehicle. He saw the suspect leaning into his vehicle through a now broken window. He yelled at the suspect who ran off without taking anything.

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 1:33 pm | Posted under Crime | 9 comments