In addition to a growing homelessness and drug problem, San Francisco is facing an epidemic of property crimes across the city, with rampant incidents of looting, shoplifting, broken car windows, burglary, and robbery being reported by residents and business owners. A video was recently released on social media showing hooded shoplifters raiding the shelves of a Walgreens in San Francisco, with the store employees helpless to stop the crime in progress. A woman enters the store and pleads with the employees to call the police.
California Proposition 47 was passed in 2014, reducing property crimes under $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor. San Francisco Chesa Boudin has indicated reluctance to prosecute property crimes in the city, blaming the issue on “poverty” and “desperation.” This has left the SFPD in the difficult position of upholding laws that the city has no intention to enforce.
Facing little consequences, criminals have engaged in bold property crimes, with a woman reporting her laptop being ripped from her hands at a cafe in public and the assailant leaving and getting into a car. Many small businesses have closed up in the city, unable to prevent incidents of shoplifting and public defecation inside their stores, as crime rates skyrocket to one of the highest in the nation.
Boudin won the district attorney election on a outspoken anti-police platform, with supporters such as San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Sandra Lee Fewer leading crowds in chats of “f— the POA! f— the POA!” at campaign events. (The POA is the Police Officers Association of San Francisco, which campaigned against Boudin’s election, and Fewer’s husband is a retired law enforcement officer). In keeping with policy, instead of empowering law enforcement to prevent these crimes, Boudin wants to use taxpayer dollars to cover the costs of the private property (for example, to fix broken windows from a break-in), and is seeking $1.5 million in public funds to cover the damages.
The announcement has actually led to an increase in break-ins, as thieves have considered the move as a government subsidy for property crimes, and with a lack of enforcement or prosecution, the potential consequences are minimal. Residents and business owners have expressed frustration over the rising crime rates in the city, and many are skeptical that the subsidy will help to decrease these property crimes.