On Wednesday morning six cars were found with their windows broken on 22nd Street and South Van Ness Avenue.
A street over, at 22nd and Shotwell, two more cars were discovered with smashed windows.
For Gary Siegel, owner of the San Francisco Auto Repair Shop Center at 3260 19th St. where one of the vandalized cars is currently being fixed, the alarming trend of busted car windows is nothing new.
Siegel said that it is not unusual for his business to get up to three cars with broken windows in a week. He’s not alone. In the first six months of the year, there have been a total of 1,162 reported thefts from locked vehicles in the Mission, according to the city’s data site. That’s a 35 percent increase from the same period last year.
That segment of crime – known as smash and grabs – has been increasing steadily since 2009.
If there is any consolation, the Mission’s smash and grabs represents only nine percent of the 13,181 thefts from locked vehicles citywide.
Siegel blames Proposition 47 for the rising car burglaries in the Mission. Proposition 47 was approved by voters in 2014 and categorizes non-serious and nonviolent property and drug crimes as misdemeanors rather than felonies with the intention of reducing inmate populations and increasing state savings.
“There is no deterrent,” said Siegel.
He argues that Proposition 47 prevents officers from being able to act against those committing misdemeanors.
However, the failure to prosecute smash and grabs predates the proposition.
“It is hard to connect the suspects to all these different car break ins,” said San Francisco Police Public Information Officer Robert Rueca. He said that often there is just not enough evidence to locate the suspects and make arrests. This is why it is crucial to get eyewitness accounts, vehicle and person descriptions whenever possible, he said.
Rueca said it is probably a small number of individuals involved. When they once arrested two people for the smash and grabs, there was an immediate dip.
In the meantime, Siegal warns. “It is not a victimless crime,” he said. People have to pay to have their windows fixed, which is not cheap. Fixing a window can cost up to $400.