Jesse Hunt of San Francisco stepped out Wednesday on his morning stroll through the Cow Hollow neighborhood and noticed an all too familiar sight: broken glass in the gutters and on the sidewalks under a row of parked cars, all the windows smashed.
Smashed car windows have become so common in San Francisco that many people don’t even blink when they step on the broken glass. And those who are the victims of break-ins often complain about the lack of response from the police and prosecutors.
Hunt’s car wasn’t one of those Wednesday’s broken windows, but both he and his girlfriend have been victims in the recent past. His car was broken into on July 4th, he said, and his girlfriend was in a crash about a month ago.
“They caught the guy stealing from your car,” he said, but there has been no follow-up from the police or prosecutors since.
After spotting the line of cars after cars with broken windows, Hunt made a video. A friend posted it on social media where it struck a chord with many who were angry about the topic. In the perspective video, Hunt walks down the street, points the camera at a long line of parked cars, and zooms in on the damage done to some. At least seven of the dozen cars have broken windows on the passenger side and revealed broken glass on the pavement outside.
Car break-ins, and break-ins in particular, have been a problem in San Francisco for decades. But the problem got noticeably worse three to four years ago. In 2017, 31,122 break-ins were reported, a chronicle investigation revealed.
Areas frequented by tourists were among the most common locations for break-ins, although they occur across the city, according to The Chronicle’s SF Car Break-in Tracker, which uses data from the San Francisco Police Department.
The break-ins fell sharply when accommodation regulations were introduced in March, and the almost complete disappearance of tourists, who often leave valuables in their easily recognizable rental cars or vehicles with non-state license plates, was part of the reason, according to experts .
Some people, like Hunt, suspect this is what led the window breakers to turn their attention to locals.
“There are no more tourists in San Francisco, so now they are hunting the residents,” said Hunt. “It’s just crazy.”
After watching the video, San Francisco Police Department spokesman Officer Adam Lobsinger said it appeared to show the 1700 block of Green Street and that the department had not received any reports by late morning.
Michael Cabanatuan is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ctuan