San Francisco city leaders said last week that criminals are burglarizing homes and breaking into vehicles in residential neighborhoods more lately because the pandemic has driven away the tourists who these criminals would normally target.
On Wednesday, San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen, District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and Ingleside Capt. Chris Woon held a virtual town hall with residents of the Bernal Heights neighborhood after receiving complaints that crime is on the upswing in the area. The city leaders attributed that upswing to “economic desperation.”
Ronen said tourism in San Francisco had gone down “substantially” because of the pandemic. Consequently, “criminal rings” no longer have tourists to target in tourist hotspots, she said.
Boudin echoed that theory, saying that the pandemic has been especially hard “for people who were already struggling to begin with, who were already living paycheck to paycheck, or struggling to find a place to sleep every night.”
“If you used to live from couch to couch at friend’s houses, they don’t want you on their couch in the context of a contagious virus pandemic. So, that’s definitely part of the picture.”
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But Boudin also said criminals “who used to earn their living doing this kind of illegal auto burglary and targeting of tourists are now moving inside, just like the rest of us have moved inside for work in our daily lives.”
Ben Couillard who lives in the Bernal Heights neighborhood and had an armed burglar recently break into his home, told KTVU he wasn’t unsatisfied with Wednesday’s virtual town hall, and would like to see more concrete measures put into place.
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“I think we want to love our neighborhood,” he said. “We love our neighbors. We don’t want to let these sort of lowlifes scare us away.”