Last Night a Woman Was Robbed at Knifepoint on the Esmeralda Stairs

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“Horrifying,” indeed: Last night, a woman was robbed at knifepoint on the Esmeralda stairway between Coleridge and Lundys. The victim suffered minor injuries.

Neighbor Mat tells Bernalwood:

Walking home about 9 tonight (Wednesday, Jan 27), I saw 3 or 4 police cars and an ambulance on Lundys and on Prospect, near Esmeralda. I asked a policeman what’s going on, and he said, “Attempted robbery at knife point on the stairs going down to Prospect.” When I asked if the victim was hurt, he said, “Yes, but she’ll be all right.”

Another Bernal neighbor reported:

Bad bruise on her arm, minor cut on her hand. Cops are still here. I actually saw him running away as I got out of a cab. Neighbor’s camera was able to pick up the footage and see where he dumped the knife. Other neighbors rushed out to help when they heard her screaming. More lights will be going up on the houses since we can’t count on the city to help.

Regarding that last point; Don’t forget there’s a Community Crime and Public Safety Meeting happening tonight at BHNC. Demand action.

Bernal Heights wishes the victim a speedy recovery.

33 thoughts on “Last Night a Woman Was Robbed at Knifepoint on the Esmeralda Stairs

  1. We got some pretty good shots of the perp from our security camera. Passed them along to the police. Hope it does some good.

  2. Hopefully tonight someone will ask the rep from the DA’s office why repeat offenders are being put back on the street to strike us over and over again? The Captain mentioned the recidivism issues and how they have caught a couple of guys over 10 times. I’m not saying this crime is related to the recidivism issue, but it’s just an unacceptable consequence of our weak DA’s office.
    Everyone knows crime prosecution in SF is a joke. Did you know a zipcar is stolen more than once a day in SF?

    • I believe the DA will tell you that WE are largely responsible.

      The DA’s office isn’t in the business of bringing prosecutions it can’t win and juries in SF are notoriously unwilling to convict. Juries are us.

      So let’s point those fingers into the mirror…

  3. It’s a bit much to say “we can’t count on the city to help” without any supporting explanation. The police were there, and it just happened. What specifically failed to happen? Posted guards on all stairs? 1-1 police-to-citizen ratios?

    • Specifically: the City has created a permissive environment for street crime by persistently not detecting and not prosecuting. This is exacerbated by their refusal to allow citizens to arm themselves for protection. So I think it is reasonable to say ‘we can’t count on the City for help’.

  4. Thank you Joshua… The ‘us vs. the city’ sentiments so frequently expressed are tiresome and can be destructive. Good for you to put up more lights. Now go introduce yourself to one or more of the officers on your scene.

  5. Could any of the people who saw the perp (or captured the perp on video camera, as above) PLEASE provide a description?

  6. I’m so sorry to hear someone has been assaulted. Really hope the films catch the thugs & put them away. It’s terrible to feel you’re not safe.

  7. As the person who said “we can’t count on the city to help”, let me clarify. First, the police did show up en masse and were very helpful (yes, I introduced myself) – you will get zero argument from me on that front (but please note the importance of calling the SFPD emergency number at 415-553-8090 vs. 911 which gets re-routed to the CA Highway Patrol). The officers on the scene were there until at least 11 pm, scouring the area for clues and working with the neighbors to review the footage from their cameras (special thanks to Jrod and Stephanie for sharing!)

    However, we neighbors in the area have tried – mostly in vain – to work with Supervisor Campos’ office on a number of occasions to address our concerns about lack of lighting in this area. Because we are on a stairway that is pretty dark, we often have people hanging around drinking/doing (and dealing) drugs/ harassing folks as they walk by, etc. In particular, the Coleridge Mini Park, (which is across the street from where the incident in question happened), tends to be ground zero for these activities. After constantly calling the police to try and increase patrols (which they would do initially, but then it faded away), we decided to turn to our Supervisor’s office, thinking he might also be concerned that his constituents felt unsafe. It took months of calling and emailing before someone from his office responded, but to their credit, Hillary did organize two meetings with the various city departments who *might* have a hand in helping with the lack of lighting. Guess what? Each department kicked the can saying that it wasn’t their responsibility to fix it and even if it was, they don’t have the money to do it. So after months of being ignored, then getting excited that maybe someone would actually help us, we were essentially told, “we hear you, but we can’t help you.” (Also, at no point did Supervisor Campos ever show up to either meeting – he was in the middle of his campaign and apparently could not be bothered).

    This is on top of the fight that our neighbors are having to get the city to pay for tree removal in the exact area where this attack happened. Again, the city is kicking the can and putting it on us to do something.

    Unfortunately, what happened last night is not an isolated incident and I’m not naïve enough to assume otherwise – even though that particular stretch of Bernal feels like a suburb – we do live in a city and this is a good reminder for all of us to remain on our guard at all times. Our immediate neighbors have agreed to put up additional lighting in that area to help dissuade this kind of violent attack from happening again and we’re all working with each other to provide a “buddy system” if we have to walk alone at night.

    I hope our neighbor is okay – she was obviously very shaken up and I’m sure it’ll be a long time before she feels safe again. But please know that as someone who has tried to go through the appropriate channels, it’s extremely frustrating to feel like I’m good enough to ask for a vote when it’s needed, but I’m completely ignored when I have a concern as serious as the safety and well being of myself and my neighbors.

    • This has been my experience with lighting as well – you can get caught in a vortex where no agency will take ownership, and it’s almost impossible to get a new light installed. You’re doing the right thing by having the neighbors do it (even if it is irritating that you have to foot the bill).

    • Yeah that meeting in front of the Mini-park about the light was a farce! There were literally three agencies claiming some sort of jurisdiction over the matter, and none with the authority, or desire to do anything.

    • I keep seeing this comment about being rerouted to the highway patrol after dialing 911. I don’t understand this. I have called 911 plenty of times from both my cell phone and land line and never ended up connected to highway patrol

  8. Adding to this…after waiting around 25 minutes, all of us sitting on the stairs, neighbors had to call again before anyone came. All in, took about 30 min for police to arrive.

    • There can be many reasons for a certain call taking a certain amount of time.

      If you are triaging emergencies, a situation in which 1) the injuries are minor, 2) the attacker is no longer on scene, and 3) neighbors are with the victim, is a lower police priority than an active incident.

      Also, it is a well-established fact that victims and bystanders overestimate response times. (This is understandable in times of stress. But it is still used to unfairly criticize emergency responders.)

      It’s human nature to cast about for someone to blame. Two things are clear: Who is to blame? The perpetrator. Who is not to blame? The victim, whom I hope recovers speedily.

      • Btw, if you had the Mission police station and your station, it would have taken longer. And, if you called the desk, they would have yelled at you about calling them directly instead of dispatch. The Mission police station will always just say that there was a bigger matter of life and death happening and yours doesn’t rate, especially if it is happening at night. So to the person at the safety meeting who wanted to be in the Mission station’s area, I wouldn’t recommend it. Bernal gets a phenomenal amount of response from Ingelside.

  9. We are all sheep and the criminals know this. The police will come minutes after a violent incident occurs to fill out a report, but then the victim is already shot, cut or otherwise assaulted. This will not change until responsible citizens are empowered to protect themselves from these cowardly thugs.

  10. It seems there isn’t much appetite among the people who know to provide a description of the perpetrator: age, race, height, weight, distinguishing features, clothing

  11. I posted a description up thread. White-hooded sweatshirt, husky build, long hair, latino-ish, hard to tell his height, but probably around 5’10” or so. That’s my recollection from viewing the video after returning home from a few IPA’s anyhow. Haven’t watched it since. Police put the footage on a thumb drive. It’s hard for me to capture just the relevant slice of video since my old laptop blew up and we only have a Chrome book these days.

    • That’s pretty accurate, although I think he had a white t shirt on, not sweatshirt (at this point that doesn’t matter). I just recall the long, dark hair in a ponytail and he was fairly stocky but not particularly tall.

  12. Campos made my daughter cry when she was 3 at the Bernal Street Fair during his first run. I believe in the intuitive power of children. That’s all you need to know about Campos.

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