It’s not unusual to see shattered glass covering the streets of Hayes Valley. In fact, it’s become an all too common site, especially on Octavia Boulevard, which was once shadowed by the 101N freeway.
Car break-ins are between one of the highest crime rates in the city of San Francisco and the highest one in Hayes Valley, according to the US Census. Most people have at least seen glass on the floor and in some cases, seen it happen right in front of them.
“I was looking out the window of my apartment and saw a group of young teenagers walk by a car and throw a pebble at the window,” says Randy Paggi, 41. “I called 911. The police arrested the kids but eventually let them go because they didn’t get to take anything from the car. The window had only cracked.
Paggi has lived on Gough Street for 6 years. He doesn’t own a car, but says he makes sure to tell people when they leave their cars not to leave valuables in them.
“People need to know not to leave anything in the car,” he says
Like Paggi, most people who’ve resided the city for a few years know to put things in the trunk or take them along. However, visitors are usually unaware.
“There should be a sign that states “Please don’t leave valuables in the car” when entering the city of San Francisco,” says Paggi.
The question here is not how to stop car-break-in but instead how to prevent them.
“These kids aren’t interested in stealing the car; they just want what’s in it,” says Robert Anderson, 21.
Like Paggi, Anderson has also witnessed a car break in.
“Kids break into cars in broad day light,” he says.
Luckily nether neither Anderson nor Paggi had a personal bad experience with car break-ins because neither of them owns a car.
Tom Colopy, 24, instead, is a victim of this crime. Not only once but 4 times. His car was eventually stolen on the fifth try.
“I was pissed but realized it’s a problem to have a car in this city,” he says, “and plus I’m not polluting the environment.”
Colopy has seen the tool that’s is commonly used to shatter windows.
“It’s a metal, high pressure spring,” he says.
Colopy is not alone.
Michael Grant, 24, had $5000 dollars worth of stuff stolen out of his car. He had packed the car a night before moving to Oregon.
“I parked the car on Polk and Pine and took a girl on a date,” he says, “one hour later, I came back to see my window smashed and almost everything gone.”
Grant drove up to Oregon anyway. With the windows down, the snow blowing strong and chain-smoking cigarette, he recalls that moment as a spiritual one.
“I cried on the way there,” he says, “it released a lot of emotions.”
Grant had to learn the hard way that material possessions come and go.
Young thuggish looking kids are usually to blame for this crime. However, Max Suero, 40, has another take on it.
“Somebody told me it’s a bum that walks around with a bat and whenever he gets angry, he smashes a window,” he says.
Regardless of who does it, it is important to avoid it all together. By remember to take all valuables out of the car, the chances for a break in is reduced.