Noe Valley Voice November 1997

Police Beat: Two Robberies Foiled

By Officer Lois Perillo

The Noe Valley area reported two robberies during September. And suspects were arrested in both cases.

On Sept. 13 at 6:45 a.m., two men in their early 20s robbed a 45-year-old man of his wallet as he walked near 26th and Noe streets. The man's yells caused at least four people to notify the police and one woman to stop her car and sound its horn alarm. The calls for help brought Officers Stephanie White, John Solis, Steve Thoma, and Steve Mulkeen to the scene.

After a brief search, the suspects were arrested on the 300 block of 27th Street and booked on robbery and conspiracy. Both suspects were also charged with parole violations, and the youngest suspect was charged with narcotics possession. After checking the court record, I found that the district attorney's office had dismissed the conspiracy charges and rebooked the narcotics and robbery charges. Both defendants remain in custody, pending their court appearances.

In the second robbery, on Sept. 26 at 2:20 p.m., a 48-year-old man was caught shoplifting from Thrifty drugstore on 24th Street. He then injured the store employee who detained him after the theft. He was subsequently charged with strong-arm robbery.

Teen Loses BB Gun, and Honor

On Sept. 3 at 3 p.m., a 13-year-old boy brandished a BB gun near 25th and Diamond streets. The young suspect was caught by Officer Bruce Gendron, who seized the gun.

After a discussion with school officials, the teen -- an honor student with no prior criminal history -- received a formal admonishment from Officer Gendron and was suspended from school for five days.

Don't Give Burglars a Leg Up

There were 15 reported burglaries in Noe Valley during September, up 9 from August. Although the increase is significant, 5 of the break-ins targeted unoccupied houses under construction. The item most frequently stolen? Building tools.

Homeowners should be aware that this type of crime may be substantially reduced by limiting a thief's options. First, encourage your contractor to lock up all ladders -- do not give a burglar a leg up. Also, note that a sheet of plywood nailed over a door opening, in lieu of an actual door, usually doesn't make the grade. Install a solid-core door with a deadbolt.

Mark all tools with your California driver's license number, and avoid leaving them in one room, particularly the garage. One contractor limited theft of his tools by storing some in the garage and others in an upstairs closet. Though the thief entered through the upper level, only the tools in the garage were stolen. The fail-safe solution, of course, is to remove the tools from the construction site at the end of each work day.

To Catch a Sweaty Thief

Police responded to a home alarm on the 700 block of Sanchez Street, on Aug. 9 at 10:22 p.m., and encountered a "heavily sweating" man attempting to leave the premises. The man told Officers Susan Nangle and Robert Doss that he lived at the house and had just finished jogging.

However, the man had no house keys and did not match the neighbors' description of the owners. Also, a consent search of the suspect revealed burglary tools and jewelry inscribed with the owner's name.

The 35-year-old man was arrested and booked on two felony counts of burglary and receiving stolen property, plus a misdemeanor of burglary tool possession. He remains in custody, pending a trial date in Superior Court.

Where Are They Now?

Remember the 29-year-old woman and resident of Diamond Street who reportedly drove over an officer's foot near Pier 39 in July of 1996? She successfully completed diversion (performed community service to the judge's satisfaction) on Sept. 30 and was exonerated of all charges.

As for that 30-year-old man who assaulted another man July 19 on 24th Street: he completed diversion on Sept. 18, and the battery charge was dismissed.

It Ain't a Con If You Walk Away

As a result of last month's column, I received several calls from people about their experience with con artists. One man reported believing the 24-Hour Nautilus guy, giving him money, and then feeling "taken" when he read about the scam in the column.

I'll say to you what I said to him: Please do not put yourself down for giving to others. Charity is an admirable quality. Just spread the word about scams, so that others may be informed and less likely to be conned.

In the next phone call, a woman said a younger woman had approached her on 24th Street, carrying a deposit bag "filled with money," and asked what she thought she should do with it. Apparently the older woman's response, "Return it to the bank," was not what the suspect hoped for. The targeted woman maintained her composure and walked away from the suspect, successfully defeating the con known as "the Switch."

In the Switch, the con artist convinces the victim to give him or her some "good faith" money in exchange for holding a much bigger sum of found money. The large wad of bills later turns out to be fake -- usually just cut-up newspaper wrapped in a small amount of legitimate currency.

Texas Is Another Country, Right?

For the past eight years, I have participated in an annual training conference for the International Association of Wom-en Police. Last year the conference was held in Birmingham, England. This year it's in Dallas, Texas. So I'll be out of town for a week attending classes and networking with law enforcement associates from around the globe.

I'll see you on patrol when I get back. Stay safe.