Crime Watch: Coordinated Muggings (and How to Avoid Them)

Over on the Bernalsafe mailing list, there’s been a flurry of chatter for the last few days about a rash of muggings (and attempted muggings) that have taken place recently along the Tompkins Street corridor, just south of Cortland.  Most of the crimes seem to involve well-organized groups of goons who operate in coordinated pairs from opposite ends of the block to entrap potential victims from multiple angles of attack.

One commenter posted an account of one such incident last week, along with some useful tips on how to avoid becoming a victim yourself. (Hint: YELL!) Republished here by permission:

I’m writing both in response to the recent post re: Almost Mugged and to alert you to an on-record mugging this past Saturday night, 1/22.

I — and my neighbor who was mugged — live on Prentiss, between Tompkins & Jarboe Streets.

My neighbor got off the bus on Cortland to pick up something @ the JC Super on Cortland/Ellsworth. Walking home from Cortland (Cortland / Folsom / Jarboe / Prentiss) he was followed by a group of 6-8 young men between the ages of 18-23. He was unaware that they were following him until they jumped him, mid-block on Prentiss.

Like the other poster, the group was split into twos — all walking separately, but coordinated; easy to miss if you’re not really paying attention.

They followed him to Prentiss street, grabbed him, beat him on his body & face, and took his cell fone. His wallet, in his front pocket, was left on his body b/c when he fell to the ground, his body hid its location. Only when he bit the arm of the man who was holding him around the neck from behind, was he able to scream for help.

His housemate heard his screams from down the street, and came running. I heard him from my bedroom, which was directly across the street, and I called 911. The group split up and ran in every direction. I stayed on the fone w/dispatch while 2 police cruisers arrived quickly. Dispatch also sent an EMT — which eventually took him to the hospital for stitches over his eye and a scan to confirm no broken facial bones.

Oddly, he was actually mugged in front of several houses that have very bright motion-sensor lights.

Bottom line: Be safe. Don’t walk alone if you can help it. Be aware. Do not walk while on your fone /checking email, etc.

My neighbor does not have life-threatening injuries. He will be OK. But the trauma — facial injuries and emotional — is heartbreaking.

The police told us (me and a few neighbors who came out) that there have been a number of these coordinated muggings lately (here in Bernal Heights, the Mission, and other neighborhoods), and that it’s really hard to catch them w/out physical identification. Many of them have a “get-away” car just a few blocks away and use their cell phones to arrange pick-up.

Tip from the police: If you are mugged/attacked, or see something suspicious, ACT. Scream, yell, run. Get a look at their SHOES; they spend $ on their shoes and will not “drop” or leave them as they flee from a crime; they WILL drop identifiable clothing — hats, jackets/hoodies/vests — as they run.

Image: Crime map for the week of January 17, 2011, from San Francisco Crimespotting

12 thoughts on “Crime Watch: Coordinated Muggings (and How to Avoid Them)

  1. Uh, phone. P-H-O-N-E. But seriously, this is a little scary. I use Tompkins as a shortcut all the time. Guess I should go the extra block to stay on Cortland. Thanks for the info.

    • I actually was not able to get a good look at any of them but one. My housemate saw them a little bit better but not good enough to get facial descriptions. He saw a diverse group, he definitely saw white and african american kids in the group. The biggest thing in common were they all wore hoodies and kept to the shadows in the areas along Jarboe when they started following me.

    • I’ve actually often wondered –on those dark early-morning dogwalks in that area and nearby– about how criminals would view a potential victim if they are with a dog. I know that dogs provide excellent deterrents to home break-ins, and I always thought that was because of the variable involved.

      Remember, kids, get to know your community and be smart. Reading this (as well as the SFPD crime report e-mails) is a good start…

      • Probably depends greatly on the size of your dog. Rat-Dogs Not Generally a Deterrent.


  3. Pingback: How to Get Mugged | Bernalwood

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