Conversation with a cop


Lt. Ed Del Carlo, all 6 feet 6 inches of him, rises out of his chair in a gritty windowless office inside the fortress-like Northern Station on Fillmore Street and extends a welcoming hand the size of a catcher’s mitt. In his other hand are 32 police reports from the day before. The 25-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department doesn’t try to whitewash the situation: Crime is mushrooming citywide — and it’s worse in the Fillmore.

Lt. Ed Del Carlo

Lt. Ed Del Carlo

“The big growth trend is property crime. But no longer is it only drug dealing addicts who break into cars to steal a laptop, a smart phone, an iPad or any electronic device they can fence within minutes at 7th and Market,” he says. “We’re seeing more sophisticated, more violent criminals who’re coming in from the East Bay, Sacramento, the Central Valley and the Peninsula because they know if they get arrested, chances are they won’t do any jail or prison time.”

The neighborhood crime surge is affecting both residents and retailers, and criminals are more brazen. This year, thieves drove a stolen car through the front glass  door of the Marc Jacobs fashion boutique at Fillmore and Sacramento around 4 a.m., looted its merchandise and were gone in an estimated five minutes. And twice this year, the glass door of the MAC makeup shop on Fillmore near Pine was shattered in the early morning hours and the shelves were cleaned of expensive skin creams. In the summer, thieves smashed the glass front door of Dino and Santino’s restaurant at Fillmore and California and carted off the cash register.


A plague of smash and grab

CRIME WATCH | Chris Barnett

The familiar sight of shattered glass in the gutter is hard evidence of a crime that plagues local residents, visitors and shoppers alike. Anyone with a car is a potential target. Smash-and-grab thieves don’t care if it’s a Mini Cooper or a Maserati.

You’d never know it from walking the blocks around Fillmore Street, but according to police statistics, auto burglaries are actually down 7 percent from a year ago in the Northern District, which includes much of the neighborhood. Captain Ann Mannix reels off the local numbers: 1,037 vehicle bust-ins for the first eight months of this year, compared to 1,132 during the same period last year.

Citywide, auto break-ins are up 6 percent — including the Park District, which covers most of the neighborhood west of Steiner Street.

While the auto burglary figures from the police department may indicate trends, they are not remotely comprehensive, since many — perhaps most — of those who suffer a loss don’t file a police report.