UPDATED: Heavy, Handmade Community Bench Recovered After Late-Night Theft



Last Saturday morning, Bernalwood received an urgent communication from Neighbor Annice on Prospect. Overnight, someone had stolen the beautiful new community bench she’d helped install:

Please send an ALERT for a beautiful community bench taken [Friday] night from Prospect. There is a wonderful story behind the bench; it was handcrafted for the neighborhood from a single tree felled in a forest north of Tahoe, milled and designed by a woodworking artist. [On Friday] night around 1:30 a small commotion was heard. The bench had only been in place for fifteen days, and was already appreciated as a welcoming addition to our neighborhood. We are heartbroken it disappeared.

As the saying goes, “this is why we can’t have nice things.” *sigh*

Happily, however, the story had brightened considerably by Sunday. The bench was recovered! It seems the urchins had not gotten far with it, in no small part because the bench is just so damn heavy.

But that has created a different problem, as Neighbor Annice explains:

The good news is the bench was found! Please ignore my earlier request unless you think there is a story about nightly rowdiness. Apparently drunken people tried to carry this ton bench, managed to get a block away. and abandoned it.

A neighbor took it in for protection and then saw our plaintive notice, posted like hopes for missing pets. My immediate neighbors were in an upset over the stolen bench. None of held high or even any hope. So perhaps the story mingles malicious behavior with the best of human behavior.

We still need a posse to return it a block away if any samaritans (strong) want to help, much appreciated if you could pass the word along.

UPDATE, 29 JULY: The Bench is Back!


Neighbor Annice is overjoyed:

The bench returns!
Many strong men ahoy!
Carried this lovely bench back to Prospect.
A feat!
We benchwarmed with wine and will try to handle security without compromising looks.
A small film is being made about the bench by a SOTA student.
Will keep you posted. May be a footnote to public art issues on the hill.
Merci beaucoup!

PHOTOS: Top, @TheRealWBTC. Below, courtesy of Neighbor Annice. 

14 thoughts on “UPDATED: Heavy, Handmade Community Bench Recovered After Late-Night Theft

  1. Hate to be a debbie downer but if this lasted 15 days, it’s only a matter of time before something terrible happens again.

  2. I haven’t seen the bench in question (or the surrounding space to give it context), but from the photo, it looks like it is simply up along a fence in front of a home, and to a semi-inebriated person, I could see it being construed as a sweet dumpster dive score (and could have been picked up with no malicious intent to steal).

    Other than the heft of the object, is it obvious that it is supposed to be a permanent installment and not just a really nice piece of furniture that someone just wanted to get rid of? Some of my favorite furnishings were salvaged late night from street corners (in NYC and SF), so unless it’s bolted down, (or perhaps is adorned with a plaque etc. describing that it is a community bench), I wouldn’t jump to conclusions that hooligans were trying to steal for nefarious reasons. It’s entirely possible someone thought a de-cluttering neighbor was trying to rid themselves of something nice so the “thieves” tried (thankfully in vain) to salvage it.

    Just playing devil’s advocate….

  3. ONCE AGAIN people who haven’t lived long in Bernal think it’s an amusement park. Bernal Heights is a rough neighborhood. People who live there should get to know the lay of the land before moving there. It is NOT as wholesome as people think. I don’t know how many times I’ve said this and how many times people have responded that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I lived there about 9 years and continually saw acts of vandalism, assaults, and burglaries. Having a bench stolen is not unusual.

      • I stepped in the giant hole in my wallet after walking outta Good Life, damn near twisted my ankle. But them dogs tied up to the parkin meter out front gave me a big ol’ kiss, so it ain’t all bad.

    • “Wholesome” is in the eye of the beholder. As is “rough.” The demographics of this neighborhood have changed radically since I moved here in 96. It is undoubtedly more upscale. Funny thing though: I didn’t consider this neighborhood “rough” 18 years ago.

      Compared to almost any large city back east, where I grew up, San Francisco doesn’t have ANY bad neighborhoods. Yes, any and every crime is regrettable, but a little perspective would help allay any feeling that Bernal Heights is still, or ever really was, rough.

      Bolt the bench down as described above and start the clock. Can we have a betting pool with proceeds to charity?

      Bonus Round Demographic Assumption Question: Which neighborhood in San Francisco has the highest percentage home-ownership?

  4. If they attached it to the ground with a simple L bracket and tamper resistant concrete screws, no one (not even drunk people) could steal it…any contractor of handy person with the right person could do this for them. That is how all the public benches around the city are secured.

  5. Glad it was recovered, if I were the generous neighbors who donated time and money for the bench I would get the city to help to bolt it down in a sanctioned way and put a plaque on there saying something to the effect “Donated Community Bench”(don’t steal)

    Looks awesome and I look forward to sitting on it sometime soon.

  6. What about that horrible looking dry rot fence behind the bench boy that should could use some help. I have a gallon of white paint u can have but looks like it needs more help than paint !

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