Photo posted by SFPD Mission Station
Photo of confiscation tweeted by SFPD Mission Station on Feb. 2, 2023,

At around 1 p.m. on Feb. 1, undercover police officers arrested three women for purportedly selling stolen goods on the sidewalk at 16th and Mission streets. The women were cited and released from custody, according to a police report shared with Mission Local.

Santiago Lerma, a legislative aide for District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, told Mission Local that Public Works first confiscated inventory from the women a week earlier because they lacked any proof of having purchased the goods.

SFPD then received a tip that the women were again selling stolen goods, triggering an investigation by the SFPD Burglary Unit. The plainclothes officers were able to scan the QR codes of the goods for sale, revealing that the items had been stolen from Target, according to Lerma.

A new vending ordinance went into effect in early September. Since then, the SFPD has mostly accompanied workers from Public Works as they check permits or encourage those without permits to leave.

Violations of the vending ordinance will not result in criminal charges, according to Rachel Gordon, the spokesperson for Public Works. In fact, Mission District police Captain Michael McEachern wrote to the Chronicle, in September, 2022, that “we do not intend to become involved, unless the safety of the (Public Works) workers come into question.”

The difference here?

“This was not initiated by a violation of the vending ordinance,” Lerma said. “It was initiated by an independent unit that investigates retail theft.”

Public Works does not report to police when goods are confiscated. These arrests were the product of an independent “surveillance” operation by SFPD.

Though Public Works employees are in charge of permitting, none were visible in the images tweeted by the SFPD Mission Station or a video of the arrests sent to Mission Local.

Follow Us

Christina A. MacintoshReporting Intern

Christina grew up in Brooklyn and moved to the Bay in 2018. She studied Creative Writing and Earth Systems at Stanford.

Join the Conversation


Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Kurt: You say “This is offensive. I’m pissed my tax dollars are being used to harass poor women trying to survive by selling marked-down head and shoulders on the street.” This attitude sums up the “progressive” outlook on crime and exposes why decades of governance by an incompetent, ideologically-motivated Board of Supervisors has so damaged the quality of life and reputation of this beautiful city. NO, being poor does give one license to steal, and arresting people who shoplift or sell stolen goods is NOT harassment. What strange ethics you have. Most of the merchandise being sold at both 16th and Mission and 24th and Mission is stolen, and you’re OK with that? A city that doesn’t enforce its laws is a dysfunctional city that invites criminal behavior. It’s effectively like the City announcing: “Come to SF and get away with just about anything!!!” SADLY, THIS IS SAN FRANCISCO TODAY. And it needs to change. Compassion? YES. License to do as you please without consequences? NO!

  2. Anyone remember when Gavin Newsom was running for mayor for the first time and homelessness and crime was the top issue? The articles back then always seemed to wonder why in a wealthy city we have such problems. This liberal town is a great place to bring in ad revenue, make profit and get investor funding. Clearly the women on the sidewalk intentionally missed this. She’s in a jail cell and now we can point to her if a huge corporation like Target needs to close a store due to competition, or if the Giant’s can’t sign a star player.

    1. San Francisco is a great place to work an honest living with an extreme labor shortage, with entry level jobs paying upwards of $50k/yr.

  3. This is offensive. I’m pissed my tax dollars are being used to harass poor women trying to survive by selling marked-down head and shoulders on the street, in defense of huge corporations who recently admitted to largely lying about the extent of retail theft. Ronen should be embarrassed. What a phony “progressive”

    1. I don’t care where people steal their items, open-air markets for stolen goods are a public nuisance. You can’t shop in local stores for small items anymore without chasing down a clerk to open a locked shelf. SF currently has a 2% unemployment rate; people who need money should clean up their act and get a job, not shoplift stuff for resale.

    2. So you are pro-theft? Is that now the progressive position?

      Will you still be pro-theft when your apartment is ransacked?

    3. It;s worse than that. It’s our tax money being used as a vigilante force for target/Walgreens/Safeway et al.

      Why do I have to pay cops for their terrible security?

  4. Stolen goods being sold at 16th & Mission? No way! Mission district residents are honest and hard working…they are San Francisco’s finest and not criminals!

    1. Would it be okay if these poor women sold your stolen personal property at marked down prices so they could survive?

      1. Plenty of poor people do not resort to crime. Being poor is not an excuse, and criminals are not victims.

      2. I thought that the nonprofits were on this, had Mission residents’ backs, and that if the City only funded this and that agency, the needs of the most vulnerable would be met and they would not need to fence merchandise on the sidewalk.

  5. This a rampant problem in this area a d around the city. 99% of what is being sold is stolen. This random crackdown effort is way too little and way to late. They should enforce this hourly, daily. until the message is clear, that this will not be tolerated. Law abiding citizens are not treated with the same leniency as those that break the laws constantly.

    1. Why would a law-abiding citizen need to be treated with leniency? It seems you are saying law-abiding citizens who break the law should be treated with the same leniency as non-law-abiding citizen.

      It extremely difficult for me to understand how some people who break the law are “law-abiding” and others are not. Perhaps what you meant is that some people who break the law are good and some are bad.

      I really don’t understand your comment, but we all deserve an explanation.

      1. @Bad Cop. Confused? Let me fill you in. As square as OP’s comment comes across, it points to issues like Public Works coming out in want of charging neighbors a $1400 fee for having installed home built benches around sidewalk trees. The charge is sidewalk encroachment. All the while opioid abusers get to lay draped across any sidewalk.

  6. I have walked often at 24th and Mission and I don’t see any DPW or police anymore asking for permits. They did at the beginning, but not anymore. The police now comes when there’s crime happening (stabbing, assaults, shootings, extreme acts I mean) in that corner.

    1. The last time I took BART at 24th & Mission, the plaza was a trashed-out disaster. It also was clearly populated with people fencing stolen goods. Like everything else, city dysfunction is destroying the City.