Noe Valley Voice October 1998

Police Beat: B of A Robbed

By Officer Lois Perillo

I haven't collected all the stats on September, but I noticed one notable incident: A man 30 to 40 years old robbed the Bank of America at 24th and Castro on Sept. 15 at 5:10 p.m.

The suspect showed the teller a note in which he demanded money. The teller complied, then hit the alarm as the suspect exited. Police Officers Susan Nangle and Ray Salvador searched the area but did not locate the robber. Crime lab technicians also responded to collect physical evidence. Then FBI agents arrived on the scene, took charge of the investigation, and seized the bank's videotape.

The suspect was described as a white male with brown hair, standing 58109, weighing 150 to 160 pounds, and wearing sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt.

Middle of the Night Mugging

During August, there were only two reported robberies within my beat.

In the first incident, which happened on Aug. 7 at about 2 a.m., a 46-year-old man was carrying a bag of groceries as he walked north on Dolores from 24th Street, when a stranger approached and asked him for "a light." A second man then came up behind him, pulled out a gun, and said, "Where's the money?" The first man then took the targeted man's waistpack, while the second grabbed the groceries. Both thieves fled south on Dolores Street. No arrest has been made so far.

The second August robbery involved teenage girls and occurred at 24th and Guerrero on Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. Details of this incident were unavailable as of this writing.

Termite Nabbed Again

Commercial burglaries on 24th Street peaked this summer with a record 11 incidents occurring in August. The September count had already reached four by the end of the first week. A few days later, 39-year-old convicted burglar and parolee Larry Kraft was taken into custody by Sergeant Lou Espinda.

Kraft, known as "The Termite" for a series of crafty ceiling break-ins in Noe Valley shops, was considered to be the prime suspect in the rash of store burglaries. Since he was subject to search as a condition of his parole, Sgt. Espinda -- along with Kraft's parole officer, Leo Pierini, and Sergeant Steve Bossard -- entered Kraft's South Van Ness residence on Sept. 9 and found him in possession of narcotics.

Kraft was arrested and delivered to state prison, where a hearing will be held to revoke his parole. Meanwhile, the last reported commercial burglary in Noe Valley occurred Sunday, Sept. 9.

Unfortunately, neighboring Eureka Valley has been targeted in a string of door kick-in burglaries. The suspect in these incidents is described as a white male in his 30s, salt and pepper hair, carrying a dark-blue daypack.

Auto Boosters Busted

There were 22 car break-ins during August on my turf. The police arrested five suspects involved in two of the incidents.

The first incident involved four teen boys, ranging in age from 11 to 17. They were caught on the 4200 block of 25th Street and charged with auto burglary. (The date and other details were unavailable at press time.)

On Aug. 30 at 3:10 p.m., a witness reported seeing a 21-year-old man break into her neighbor's car and then attempt to break into her own car, on the 3900 block of 25th Street. The suspect was arrested after the witness called police and gave a detailed description.

Sergeant Mike Stasko responded to the call and located the suspect at Clipper and Church streets. Once he'd been identified, the man was booked on two felonies of auto burglary and receiving stolen property. The district attorney rebooked him on the same charges, but reduced them to misdemeanors.

The suspect was released on his own recognizance on Sept. 1, and he has appeared at two additional court dates, entering a not-guilty plea on Sept. 17.

I credit his capture to the witness, who investigated the "loud noises" she heard at 3 in the morning, called police when she saw suspicious activity, and provided the description that aided Sgt. Stasko in his search and ultimate capture of the suspect. Many thanks to the witness.

Mail Thieves Returned to Sender

A man and a woman who have been operating as a team over the past several months, stealing mail out of mailboxes in Noe Valley, were arrested by the SFPD's Special Investigations Division.

As they cased the neighborhood, the couple used a brown van with outdated disability license plates (which should have been turned into DMV years ago).

After receiving numerous reports from people whose mail had been stolen, Officers Nick Rubino and Sylvia Morrow staked out the area until they spotted the van on the first block of Fair Oaks Street on Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. They watched as the suspects pilfered mail from various mailboxes. Then they arrested the duo and charged them with nine felonies.

Since mail theft is a federal offense, U.S. postal inspectors took charge of the case, and the suspects -- 30-year-old Jennifer Pember and 40-year-old Paul John Brown -- were remanded to the feds. The U.S. inspectors will need to do a great deal of follow-up work to make the case -- the police report listed 115 victims.

An Old Con Game with a New Twist

As is always the case, confidence artists change their sales pitch to suit the targeted person and the neighborhood. Sadly, an elderly woman living on the 100 block of Clipper was targeted in a scam when a 40-year-old man identifying himself as "Jim Thom" struck up a conversation about neighborhood watch programs. Soon the man found out that the woman's roof was in need of repair and told her that he and his brother-in-law happened to be doing roofing jobs. He took a monetary deposit from the woman and promised to return. The woman is out the money and still in need of the repair.

To those of you with elder relatives and neighbors, please talk to them about the possibility that they might be approached by a con artist. Discuss a variety of scenarios and perhaps encourage them to contact you or another trusted person before making a deal with any unsolicited contractor. Remind them to seek second bids and check references. SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone) at 553-1984 offers free information and will send someone to your home to make a presentation on personal safety and scam avoidance.

My Story

As many of you know, I was assaulted June 10 in Oakland, and I continue to heal from wounds by exercising. Movement is definitely a friend!

Meanwhile, on the same day that I received a certified letter from the San Francisco Workers' Compensation Division denying my claim for medical expenses and sick time, I also received a subpoena to appear at the preliminary hearing for the woman who attacked me. By the time you read this, I will have gone to court and the Alameda County Judge will have either dismissed the case or sent it to trial.

Be safe and continue to watch out for one another. See you on 24th Street.

San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers her beat by foot and by bicycle. Her turf extends from Valencia to Grand View and from 21st to Cesar Chavez Street. If you would like to discuss a neighborhood problem, call her at 558-5404, the community policing line at Mission Station. (For emergencies, dial 911.)