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Police Beat: Muggings on Diamond, 26th, and Dolores Streets
By Officer Lois Perillo
This month's Police Beat is dedicated to Capt. George "Jake" Stasko, who died in a car accident after investigating a bank robbery and shootout in downtown San Francisco.
There were four reported robberies in my part of Noe Valley during the last two months of 1998, one in November and three in December. Unfortunately, in the three cases for which I have detailed information, the thieves used physical force.
On Nov. 29 at 7 p.m., a 42-year-old woman was walking on the 4200 block of 26th Street, carrying a container of milk, when a 20-year-old man approached from behind, pushed her to the ground, and demanded her bag. The woman released the bag with the milk and screamed for help. The suspect grabbed the bag and fled in a waiting vehicle, which drove east on 26th Street. Officers Terry Huey and Mike Robison responded to the call and searched the area, but did not find the suspects or their car.
In the first December robbery, which occurred at 2:25 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6 (in other words, very late Saturday night), two 27-year-old men, who were walking with two other people on the 900 block of Dolores near 22nd Street, were targeted by three men in their late teens. One suspect brandished a small silver pistol (later found to be a toy gun) and said, "Give us what you have," before striking one of the men in the head, knocking him to the ground. A second man was also hit in the head with a metal object.
The first man gave his wallet to the suspects, who fled eastbound in a gray Nissan. The two targeted men's companions ran home and phoned the police. Descriptions provided by the witnesses allowed Officer Mike Robison to locate and arrest the suspects a short time later at 22nd and San Jose Avenue. All three suspects were charged with robbery, aggravated assault, and conspiracy.
Two weeks later, on Saturday, Dec. 19, at around 6:30 p.m., a 59-year-old woman was about to exit her parked car on Diamond Street near Alvarado when a 20-year-old man approached and demanded her purse. The woman screamed, but the man hit her on the head with a metal object and took her bag.
The suspect then fled east on Alvarado Street in a small red two-door vehicle. The woman immediately went to a neighbor's house, where she received first-aid for a head bruise and bloody nose. Officer Phil Lorin responded and searched the area, but did not find the suspect.
'The Termite' Goes Back to Jail
Thanks to the diligent work of Sgt. Lou Espinada, Sgt. Steve Bossard, and Parole Agent Leo Pierini, the man thought to be responsible for multiple commercial burglaries on 24th Street -- Larry Kraft -- was taken into custody on Dec. 10 and sent back to state prison.
Kraft, known by police as the Termite, was convicted two years ago of breaking and entering the local Starbucks (he had tunneled through a wall and was discovered hiding in the store's ceiling). He also was implicated in a dozen other burglaries, often prying open the shops' windows or doors. When I noticed similarities in a recent spate of break-ins, I checked Kraft's status and found that he had been released from prison and was on parole in San Francisco.
I contacted sergeants Espinada and Bossard, who arranged a search of Kraft's Valencia Street apartment with his parole agent. The search turned up evidence from three burglaries, along with burglary tools and a crack pipe. Kraft was arrested and charged with the break-ins. The district attorney chose not to file on the new charges, but instead sent Kraft back to San Quentin, where his parole was revoked and he was sentenced to the maximum one-year prison term.
A Con Man with a 'Mission'
A 26th Street resident reports that a man calling himself Tim McCaffrey has been going door to door and illegally soliciting for the charitable U.S. Mission. The resident says she called the organization and was told that McCaffrey has no authority to collect for the group and has been misrepresenting himself for several years. McCaffrey is described as a 40- to 50-year-old white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with long light-brown hair.
Two 21st Street residents tell me that a different man has been working their neighborhood. This one claims to be the newly elected block captain and follows up his introduction with, "Oh, by the way, would you please donate money to support my daughter's athletic team?" He also promises a thank-you from his wife's family, who runs "a well-known business."
The con man is described as a thin, nervous, and fast-talking 35-year-old, possibly of Hispanic descent, 5 feet 5 inches tall, with black, combed-back hair.
(He may be the same man who has approached several 24th Street business owners with the claim that he has stopped break-ins at their establishments at 2 a.m., while on his way home from a bartending job. He wants to inform the owners himself, he says. Then he pops the question about his daughter's athletic team.)
For the record, any organization with members who solicit funds must obtain a Charitable Solicitors Permit from the SFPD. Each solicitor is issued an ID card with his or her name and the organization's information. Independent individuals who solicit or panhandle do not require a permit, but they must obey posted "No Solicitors" signs.
One Case Closed, Another Almost
The 21-year-old male resident of the 1000 block of Dolores Street who was charged with auto burglary last August, after being identified by a witness, successfully completed a pre-trial diversion program and had his charges dismissed Dec. 31. Happy New Year to him.
My own case, in which I was assaulted by a woman in Oakland last June 10, is scheduled in Alameda Superior Court for Jan. 29. (It could be over by the time you read this.) The defendant is due to enter a guilty plea for assault with a deadly weapon, in order to avoid a trial and receive a predetermined sentence. I have written the presiding judge with my sentencing recommendations, with copies sent to the Probation Department and D.A.'s office. I requested three years' state prison with the sentence suspended, and asked that instead she serve one year in county jail followed by anger management counseling and facilitative mediation training (during her probation).
I also requested that upon her release, and as a condition of her probation, she work as a mediator for one year and be eligible to reduce her term of probation by the amount of any additional time she works beyond the first year.
These recommendations came after serious thought. During the assault I feared for my life, and I believe that if I had not rolled off the hood of the defendant's vehicle as she sped up the block, I would have been more seriously injured or killed. I want her held accountable for using deadly force, and I want her to take responsibility for her actions. Will the judge be able to achieve that end? I'll let you know next month.
Until then, be safe, watch out for one another, and I'll see you on patrol.
San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers the northern half of Noe Valley --from Valencia to Grand View and 21st to Cesar Chavez Street -- on foot and on bicycle. If you would like to discuss a problem, call her at 558-5404, the community policing line at Mission Station.