Noe Valley Voice October 1997

Police Beat: 4 Muggings and a Store Robbery

By Officer Lois Perillo

There were five reported robberies within my Noe Valley beat during August, two more than in July.

In the first robbery, which happened on Aug. 4 just before 1 p.m., a 33-year-old woman from Italy was walking west on the 800 block of Elizabeth Street when a 30-year-old man drove up in an older silver American car, exited, and grabbed her bag. As they struggled, the woman screamed, drawing the attention of a witness who notified police. Other witnesses also came to the woman's aid, but not before the suspect had pushed the woman backwards, causing her to injure her knee. The suspect returned to his car and escaped west on Elizabeth Street.

An 83-year-old Petaluma woman and her two daughters were robbed and assaulted as they crossed Worth Street near 21st Street on Aug. 10 at about 7:40 p.m. The robber was a man in his late 20s, who drove up in a cream-colored Mercury Cougar. He exited the car and grabbed the elder woman's purse from behind. As the woman resisted, the suspect pulled her to the ground. The daughters tried to intervene, but were both thrown to the ground also. One daughter was punched in the face. The suspect fled with two of the women's purses. Meanwhile, the wom-en's yells produced many calls to police and reports from at least five witnesses. Although a description of the suspect was broadcast citywide and the area was searched, the assailant was not found.

In another incident, on Aug. 12 at 10 p.m., a 37-year-old man walked past a group of six men in their 20s standing at the corner of 23rd and Noe streets. One of the young men yelled something in Spanish, but the older man failed to understand since his languages were English and Cantonese. As the older man attempted to pass the group, one of the younger men threatened him with a knife and said, "Money." Then an accomplice punched him, causing him to fall to the ground. Several others rummaged through the man's pockets until they found and removed his wallet. They fled with the stolen property in an unknown direction.

In the last of the street robberies, a 27-year-old woman and a 33-year-old man were walking on 26th Street near Dolores when they were approached by a man who asked them the time. The couple reported feeling "uncomfortable" and continued walking, but were stopped when two other men joined the first. The couple did not resist as the three men rifled through their pockets, stealing their wallets, and then punched the targeted man before fleeing in an unknown direction. Through the investigative efforts of robbery inspector Richard Dalton, a suspect was arrested and charged in this case. More details to follow next month.

During the only commercial robbery in August, a 20-year-old man entered a store at 24th and Guerrero on Aug. 28 at 12:35 p.m. He brandished a gun and stole a small amount of money from a store worker and a customer. No one was injured in the incident, and an investigation is ongoing.

Kudos to all the people who came away from these dangerous situations by using a range of responses, including their voices. Yelling proved a valuable tool, by drawing witnesses and police to the scene. And thanks to those of you who helped by paying attention, calling the police, offering aid, and being witnesses.

A reminder: Each incident had its own distinct features, and each person had his/ her own strengths and and weaknesses in reacting to them. By creating different scenarios in your mind's eye, you may better prepare yourself for a confrontation. No, I do not advocate dwelling on the negative. I do advocate options, vigilance, and ongoing care for and about each other.

Burgs Are Down

There were six reported burglaries within my area, down from seven in July. Five occurred during the last two weeks of August, and included a house under construction, an apartment garage, and four houses or flats.

Shoplifters Nabbed

Two shoplifting suspects were caught by store workers -- one at Just for Fun on Aug. 2, and another at Bell Market on Aug. 31. Police responded and took custody of both suspects.

In the earlier case, the 30-year-old man's charge was dismissed by the district attorney. In the second case, the 21-year-old man, an Oakland resident, was charged with a felony due to prior theft convictions. When I checked his San Francisco court record, I found that he had five additional cases pending, including three thefts with priors, one burglary, and one narcotics case.

The Palo Alto Man May Try a Scam

A resident of the 100 block of Chattanooga asked that I alert you to a "nicely dressed" white male in his 60s with gray hair who tried to elicit money from her by weaving a tale involving Palo Alto, the Peace Corps, and 24-Hour Nautilus. She did not give him a penny, and she hopes you don't either.

As the rainy season approaches, some of your neighbors and relatives, especial-ly elders, may be prey to con artists claiming to be roofers or contractors who will "prepare your house for the bad weather," usually by spraying a (phony) sealant or allegedly replacing shingles. Please remind one another never to contract with a door-to-door rep without getting references, checking licenses, and obtaining a second estimate from a company you pick.

While we are on the subject of scams and cons, always check the uniform, vehicle, and identification of any person claiming to be a utility worker seeking access to your home. If in doubt, do not allow them entry.

Finally, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If someone approaches you with a "bundle of found money," take a mental picture of them, walk away immediately, and call the cops. They are about to capture you in one of the oldest cons around: the Switch.

The money bundle is a roll of cut-up newspaper or play money wrapped in some legit currency. If you play their game and give them the required "good faith" money, you will be rewarded with a roll of worthless paper for your trouble. Run, do not walk, away from these con men and women!

Until next time, be safe and I'll see you on patrol.

San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers her Noe Valley beat by foot and by bicycle. Her turf extends from 21st Street south to Cesar Chavez, and from Valencia west to Grand View. If you would like to report a problem, call 558-5404. (For emergencies, call 911.) Or to file a police report, stop by Mission Police Station at 630 Valencia St. Noe Valley residents who live south of Cesar Chavez should contact the Ingleside Police Station at 553-1603.