Car break-ins are up as tourism returns to San Francisco

On as many as six occasions this year, Mark Dietrich has seen the aftermath of apparent tourist-center theft strewn throughout his neighborhood in the Richmond District. After apparently making off with suitcases, thieves are fleeing populated tourist zones, preferring to sort out their hauls in the streets of quieter locales, Dietrich said.

Dietrich’s home security camera captured one such sorting session outside his home, where apparent thieves can be seen rifling through suitcases, extracting valuables and dumping the rest on the street.

“Now that the tourists are back, the break-ins are just more brazen,” said Dietrich, who has taken to picking up the discarded belongings, sifting through them and trying to reunite them with their owners.

Statistics from San Francisco police show that break-ins have risen sharply in tourist areas, particularly the San Francisco Police Department’s Central District — the northeastern corner of the city, home to seven of the city’s top tourist attractions, including Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown, according to a police website.

Last month, the Police Department’s Central Station saw a 753% increase in auto burglaries compared to the previous May. But that was the height of lockdown restrictions. They are up only 75% compared to 2019.

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