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Police Beat: Cybercops at Your Service
By Officer Lois Perillo
Who do you call for tips on crime prevention and personal safety? Crime-busters on the Internet! The San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) is now in cyberspace at www.sfpoa.org. Once you reach the web site, just click on Crime Prevention, and many topics will pop up, including home security, bicycle security, vehicle safety, fraud, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual abuse, and battered women. Select one of the topics, and our best crimefighting advice will appear on your screen.
The POA also invites interested individuals and community groups to join our cyber mailing list at email@example.com.
Two Slaps for Drug Dealing
Some months ago, I received a letter titled "Confidential to San Francisco Police Only." The time has come to release some of that letter. The author wrote that a relative was being drawn into drug use by a Noe Valley man who "acts real friendly to everyone and tries to talk to everyone he can. What's so sad is that he is not a young guy -- he's an old guy, almost 60 years old -- and he's getting a lot of young people hooked on drugs. This is what makes me really angry and disgusted. So I have to do something about it. Writing to you seemed the best thing."
The writer provided details about the alleged cocaine dealer. I did the background investigation, then fowarded the file to the Narcotics Detail, whose investigators began watching the suspect's house on 25th Street near Church. After witnessing and documenting drug sales, the officers obtained an arrest warrant and a search warrant, entered the premises for the first time on Dec. 8, and seized cocaine (later verified via lab analysis), measuring scales, plastic packaging, and pay/owe sheets. Terry Berns, 53, was arrested and booked on several felony drug counts. Then he was released.
The next month, after another stakeout, the undercover officers got a new set of search and arrest warrants. On Jan. 7 at 8 p.m., the officers entered with a drug dog and seized cocaine, measuring scales, and phone bills. Berns was again arrested and charged with one misdemeanor and five felony drug charges. He was held in jail four days, then released pending a court appearance on March 19.
Domestic Violence Reports
There were three incidents of domestic violence reported in Noe Valley during the month of January.
In one of the cases, a 28-year-old woman returned home to her flat on the 400 block of Jersey Street at noon on New Year's Day, only to discover that it had been broken into and vandalized. Paint was spilled inside, and the bedroom window had been nailed shut. The woman reported that the likely culprit was her former boyfriend, who had been seen across the street from her home the night before and who had attempted to follow her when she drove away at 2:30 a.m.
She had also found a piece of hard evidence on her door: a handwritten note from the ex-boyfriend.
Jerks with Caustic Chemicals
When a 30-year-old woman driving northbound on Church Street ignored the harassing words of two 20-year-old men standing at a nearby Muni shelter, one of the men apparently threw a caustic liquid in her face. This disturbing incident occurred Friday, Jan. 16, at 8:25 p.m.
The woman reported that she was stopped at the Church and 24th Street intersection when she heard a man yell, "I want to shag you, baby," a line she recognized from the movie Austin Powers. The woman ignored the remark and kept looking straight ahead. Then suddenly, a strange, odorless liquid was splashed in her face, causing her eyes to sting and burn. She managed to drive home, where she flushed her eyes and notified police. The exact nature of the liquid has yet to be determined.
Post Office Robbery a Federal Case
The Noe Valley Post Office on 24th near Castro was robbed on Monday, Jan. 26, after closing time, at 5:35 p.m. While alone in the back of the shop, a 38-year-old postal worker answered a knock at the employees' side door and opened it to a woman brandishing a gun. The suspect, who was about 25, stole money from two locations in the office and ordered the postal worker into the bathroom. She then fled in an unknown direction.
San Francisco police later canvassed the area but found no one who recalled seeing the suspect. The Robbery Detail has now handed over the case to U.S. postal inspectors for further investigation.
Muggings of Old and Young
Earlier in the month, on Jan. 4 at 10:30 p.m., a 61-year-old man who had just parked his car on 22nd Street near San Jose was pushed to the ground by two men in their 20s. The suspects stole money from the man and then fled in his car. Two days later, police found the car, parked and unoccupied, on Shotwell Street in the Mission District. Although the vehicle was processed by crime techs, no usable evidence was found.
On Jan. 15 at 3:45 p.m., a 12-year-old boy was mugged by two slightly older males at 25th and Castro streets. No further details were available at press time.
Batten Down the Hatches
The first month of 1998 saw 14 burglaries on my turf (which runs from Valencia to Grand View and Cesar Chavez to 21st Street). Eight houses, three apartments, and three garages were all hit.
In one incident, a 15-year-old suspect broke into an apartment on the 4100 block of Cesar Chavez Street, a block from the suspect's home. However, an observant and quick-acting bystander witnessed the break-in, caught the teen, and detained him until police arrived. The young man was booked on burglary at the Youth Guidance Center.
When Fraud Equals Burglary
On Jan. 16 at about 8:30 a.m., a scruffy white man in his early 30s, standing 5-foot-8, thin build, wearing a green sweater, misrepresented himself as a roofing employee to a man affected by Alzheimer's disease. The targeted man let the con man into his building on the 1100 block of Douglass, and the suspect stole some sporting goods.
A couple of weeks later, on Jan. 29 at 9:30 a.m., a 77-year-old woman answered her door and was greeted by a suspicious-looking "PG&E" worker requesting entry to her home on the 400 block of Jersey. The 40-year-old white male -- who was 6 feet tall and 240 pounds, with a round face and an earring in his left ear -- told the woman he was there "to check the wires."
When she demanded identification from the blue jeansclad man, he quickly flashed his wallet and again requested entry. She said no. He then asked how many people lived in the house and at what time others might be home. When the woman refused to answer, he asked if she had a back entrance. She told him she was calling the police and ended the contact.
Kudos to her -- and to all of you who may have thwarted a crime or helped each other out this month. Ours is truly an interactive and caring community.
Until next time, be safe. And I'll see you on patrol.