Just before the holidays, the wonderful Neighbor Sarah attended the SFPD’s Ingleside Station Chief’s Meeting, and she shared these invaluable summary notes about the latest Bernal Heights crime trends. Neighbor Sarah’s reports are always insightful, and in this issue she brings some extra bonus tips on how to avoid becoming a crime victim. Ye Citizens of Bernalwood are strongly advised to read the whole thing:
Ingleside Community Meeting, 12/18/12
Captain Falvey presided <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Captain Falvey brought up the recent series of armed robberies on Athens Street in the Excelsior, one of which also included a carjacking. He said that carjackings are relatively rare in San Francisco. In 2009, there were 11 in the Ingleside District, five of which occurred in the Sunnydale. In 2010, there were nine (mostly Sunnydale). In 2011, six. In 2012, four YTD. They made an arrest at Excelsior and Mission recently – the person/people had robbed three people in the area (but not the same as the Athens suspects). The captain has been using the CompStat maps to direct resources to areas where there’s lots of activity, which is how the arrests were made at Excelsior and Mission.
An aside: one way to find out where your stolen car is parked is to call DPT and find out if any tickets have been issued.
Balboa Park BART remains an area of concern for robberies – DO NOT STARE DOWN AT YOUR PHONE. Keep it in your pocket.
Robberies are down 10% YTD. Violent crime is up 1% (driven by domestic violence). Aggravated assaults (which include domestic violence) are up 12% YTD.
Huge increase in car thefts in 2012, mostly 1990-98 Acuras and Hondas. Before Thanksgiving, Ingleside did a large joint operation with the Mission Station, the Sheriff, Parole, Probation, and Juvenile Detention to visit people on parole or probation who had had auto thefts or burglaries in their past records. One was found with three shaved keys and was arrested. This seems to have resulted in a huge dropoff in car thefts. They were at 109 in the mid-Sept to mid-Oct period; 108 in mid-Oct to mid-Nov; and then all the way down to 40 in mid-Nov to mid-Dec.
Personal thefts are down 12% YTD. The captain has run some robbery abatement operations, where a plainclothes officer walks with an iPhone, distracted, but no one has attempted to rob her yet.
They also served a bunch of search warrants lately. If you see a block buzzing with cops and/or SWAT teams, it’s probably because a search warrant is being served.
I asked about the incident raised this week where a Bernal neighbor witnessed what appeared to be a domestic-violence situation and called the police, then suffered apparent retaliation for this. The captain said his advice is always to call the police if you’re ever unsure of a situation (for example, if something seems weird but you’re not sure the person actually needs help) and let them figure it out – and don’t put yourself in danger. He also reminds us regularly that people themselves are not inherently suspicious, but their behavior can be, so call if you are unsure.
A community member asked about the rate of crime per resident in the Ingleside. The captain said it’s 5.94 violent crimes per 1000 people and 25.25 property crimes per 1000 people, which is usually the second- or third-lowest in SF. Taraval is huge but also very sleepy and usually has the lowest rate of crime. The Ingleside District has well over 100,000 residents and is larger than any city in San Mateo County.
GUEST SPEAKER: FURLISHOUS WYATT, JR. FROM SFSAFE
850 Bryant St., Room 135, SF, CA 94103
Furlishous Wyatt was asked to speak on residential security. Of interest to the Bernal community – he mentioned the blue tape incidents. It is thought that one reason potential burglars use the blue tape is that it is visible from a much greater distance than regular tape. The captain said the incidents have dropped off, but they did send several batches of tape to CSI, but no fingerprints have been recovered yet.
I am going to include everything Mr. Wyatt went over here – it was very helpful, if a bit unsettling. SFSAFE will do free home-safety assessments of your house and give you suggestions on improving the security. More info here.
Your ADDRESS NUMBERS should be illuminated and/or in a high-contrast color (vs the base paint of your house), and they should be visible from BOTH directions. This is for emergency responders.
Walk around your house and think like a burglar.
Security is always a mixture of things – no one thing will make your house safe.
You should have locks or screens on all doors, vents, and crawl spaces.
You should treat every door and window as if it is on the first floor. People often don’t secure their upper-floor openings as well, and burglars know this. Burglars sometimes do things like bring painting equipment and ladders and get into the second floor of a house that way.
Anything that is 96″ square or shoebox-sized is big enough for a small person or teen to get into – your head is the only thing that does not bend.
A burglar’s worst enemies are TIME, LIGHT, and NOISE, which can help guide you in setting up your home’s security. Burglars will aim for the path of least resistance.
TAKE VIDEO of each room in your house. Describe the contents of each room. This will be a huge help for insurance in the event that your house ever does get robbed, and it’s easier than making a list. Do each quarter of a room separately.
There is NO SAFE WAY to walk alone at night. White earbuds make you a target for thieves. So does looking at your phone.
Attitude and posture are key. Be aware of your surroundings. Have your valuables concealed (also smart to separate your valuables into different pockets). Walk with purpose and be ready for fight or flight. Flight is better – “run fool” vs “kung fu.”
Yell “FIRE” if you need other people to help you – most effective at getting people’s attention.
If you have a mail slot in your door or garage door, it should have a HOOD on it so that no one can peer in.
Doors in the interior of the garage to the interior of your house should be treated like any exterior door – solid-core and deadbolt.
Raise crowns on street trees to 7′ to have a good view down the block.
Rule of 3’/7′ – no shrubs should be higher than 3′, and tree crowns should be taller than 7′.
Trees – eliminate limbs that would allow access to roof or upper stories.
No shrubs or trees in front of doors or windows.
Privacy fences (solid wood) also shield burglars. Better to have wrought-iron/see-through.
Usually at eaves/corners of house. In back yard, better to have perimeter lights facing in. When you have floodlights facing out, they blind your neighbors to anyone who might be in the yard.
Not a be-all/end-all. If you do have an alarm system, make sure it’s connected to a central service. Neighbors will not call in burglar alarms. Like car alarms, they have become a nuisance because of false positives.
DOORS & LOCKS
Get rid of pet doors! People can and do get in through these.
Exterior doors and interior doors leading in from garage should be solid core (vs the hollow core that many interior home doors are). You can bolster glass doors with polycarbonate or acrylic sheeting/panels.
The safest type of exterior door lock (taking into account both fire safety and safety from intruders) is a SINGLE CYLINDER DEADBOLT, where you put the key into the outside but can unlatch it from the inside. Double-cylinders (where a key is required for both sides) present too much danger in case you need to exit fast from a fire. Surface-mounted locks are less aesthetically appealing but also work well. Key-in-knob deadlatches are useless – they only thing they do is keep the wind from blowing the door open.
The key to a deadbolt’s success is the strike plate, which needs to be reinforced by 3″ SCREWS that will make it through the doorframe and into the 2×4 stud that is next to the doorframe. If you just have 1″ screws, the door and frame can be kicked in relatively easily.
Do NOT buy the $9 deadbolt. You want one in the $38-50 range. You do not need to get the $140 one.
If you have double doors or sliding doors, they typically contain one active leaf and one inactive leaf. You want to reinforce the inactive leaf and make it as strong as the wall. You can do this by bolting it into the jamb. He mentioned cane bolts and Mortise bolts.
Sliding glass doors can be strengthened by a dowel in the track of the inactive leaf and screws inserted in the top track.
If you have a PEEPHOLE, make sure it’s CONVEX/wide angle, which lets you see 180 degrees.
If you have the kind where you can buzz people in, make sure the metal covers the opening entirely. Sometimes people have the front of their stoop blocked, but the iron gate/fence don’t go all the way to the top of the porch. Burglars will climb over it.
Double-hung windows are easiest to secure. You can put pins in at a slight downward angle where the panes meet.
If you have window bars in your house, you MUST have an interior emergency release on at least one in every room where people sleep or might sleep – this is in case of a fire.
Louvered windows are not secure – change them.
Casement windows – two cane bolts or flush bolts on top or bottom will help secure them.
Transom windows – if opening outward, add two bolts per opening.
Skylights can be somewhat secured with mesh, polycarbonate.
He suggested creating a reinforced room (not the full panic room you might be thinking of) that you could get to and use a phone in during a hot prowl or home invasion.
Master bedroom is one choice – change out hollow-core door for a solid-core door with a deadbolt. The room should have a landline phone, too. Cell phones run out of batteries or have poor reception.
PHOTO: Telstar Logistics