Noe Valley Voice July-August 1999

Police Beat: This Con Man Is Not SAFE

By Officer Lois Perillo

Despite his arrest a few months ago, a man who calls himself "Jim" and falsely claims to be your block's SAFE captain (in order to scam money for his daughter's soccer team) is at it again.

After I described his method in my March and April columns, many of you called to provide information on this man, identified as Joseph Lawrence. He was arrested soon after and charged with a misdemeanor count of fraudulent solicitation. Lawrence was released when the D.A. chose not to prosecute him. However, the D.A. reserved the right to prosecute later, should there be further incidents.

In response to Jim's continued illegal behavior, SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone), the organization that establishes neighborhood watch groups and provides security surveys, issued a citywide crime alert.

Inspector Mark Sullivan of the Burglary Detail became involved when Jim smooth-talked his way into the homes of two elderly women and stole items from their residences. Unfortunately, neither of the women could identify Jim from mug shots.

Judging from the most recent call I received, from an elderly resident of the 600 block of Elizabeth Street, Jim is continuing his ruse. In this case, he arrived at the woman's home at 9 p.m., told her he was the block watch captain and that he had prevented a suspicious man from sleeping on her property. He also said he had once been her paperboy and now lived two blocks away. Then he asked for a $12 donation for uniforms for his daughter's soccer team. Luckily, the woman's husband became suspicious and chased Jim away.

Jim is described as a white- or olive-skinned 45-year-old man, standing 5889, weighing 160 pounds, with brown, combed-back hair and a very thin mustache. He was reported wearing a green army jacket, a white button-down shirt, or black jacket, and carrying a notepad with a list of names.

What to Do About Scams

- Spread the word to your friends, relatives, and neighbors. (Jim has been active citywide.)

- Always check to see who is at your door BEFORE you open it.

- Never let someone you do not know enter your home. Check the I.D. of all utility or repair persons.

- Do not give money to anyone who does not have a Charitable Solicitor I.D.

- If you choose to donate money, request a receipt and the charitable organization's address and phone number.

- If you see or have contact with Jim, call the SFPD's non-emergency dispatch number at 553-0123, and me at 558-5404.

No Robberies in Noe!

For the first time in years, my area of Noe Valley experienced no robberies during a one-month period (May).

However, there was a Mission District robbery that targeted a 36-year-old Noe Valley resident of Dolores Street. It occurred Friday, May 28, at about 9:45 p.m., while the resident was talking on the telephone at 23rd and Valencia streets. A 20-year-old man, accompanied by two other men, used a verbal threat of violence to rob the Noe Valley man. Then the three suspects fled in a red Honda.

The man noted the car's license plate and contacted police. Officers Shawn McKeever and Luke Martin stopped the vehicle at 23rd and Harrison streets, with a person on board who was subsequently identified as one of the prime suspect's accomplices. This 19-year-old co-conspirator was arrested and booked on robbery, and the vehicle was towed.

Inspector Simon Silverman of Night Investigations took charge of the case. The accomplice was released from county jail five days after his arrest, and the investigation continues.

Lock Your Doors Anyway

Noe Valley reported six burglaries in May, a drop of nine from April's count of 15. Four were of apartments, and two were of houses.

One disturbing incident occurred on Monday, May 3, at 5:05 p.m., when a 23-year-old woman who lives in the first block of Fair Oaks Street left her front door unlocked while she took a short walk to a nearby laundromat. When she returned home, she found the door wide open and a 40-year-old male suspect standing in her hallway. She confronted the man and demanded that he empty his pockets. He complied, then ran out the door. No property loss was reported.

On April 19, the 40-year-old woman who was charged in April 1998 with a felony burglary of Small Frys, a 24th Street children's store, pled guilty to misdemeanor burglary. She was sentenced to five days in jail, received five days of credit for time already served, and was given a three-year probation.

Meanwhile, the 32-year-old man charged with the burglary of an apartment in the 900 block of Guerrero Street, which also occurred in April 1998, pled guilty May 5 and remained in custody, pending sentencing in August.

Then on June 9, the 35-year-old man charged with the January burglary of an apartment on the 900 block of Dolores Street pled guilty and was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation.

Dumping Needles a Bad Idea

Thanks to the eagle eyes of an anonymous witness, a 35-year-old drug user was arrested at 27th and Douglass streets by Officer Ray Salvador on Tuesday, May 11, at about 7:30 p.m.

The witness had seen the man inside a burgundy Toyota pickup truck, using syringes to shoot up drugs and then dumping the needles in the street. After the man was arrested, the Toyota was towed, and he was charged with felony drug possession and several misdemeanors. He spent the next three days in jail, then was released upon pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. (The judge sentenced him to three days, credited him those days for time served, and put him on probation for three years.)

Cry Wolf -- Get a Ticket

A San Francisco Fire Department captain called police to the 4000 block of 24th Street on May 7, at 12:30 a.m., to cite a 58-year-old man for making a false emergency report. Officers Phil and Gary Lorin responded to the scene, where Captain Karl Hillyard told them the suspect had made over 40 calls to 911 since January to ask for emergency medical services. The captain explained that all but two of the calls were unnecessary and they represented "a waste of emergency resources." The most recent call was one of three in one day, in which the suspect wanted a ride to the hospital. A preliminary medical evaluation was conducted by rescue ambulance personnel, who determined that the man did not need medical treatment. The man was cited to appear in court on June 29.

Give Me Shelter

The 59-year-old manager of the U.S. Mission Shelter, located on the 1300 block of Sanchez Street, was punched in the face by a 40-year-old former shelter resident, who also damaged shelter property. According to the manager, the suspect became enraged when he discovered that money owed to him by the Mission was available only at the shelter's Rodeo location.

After Officer Gary Hazelhoffer arrived and arrested the suspect, he discovered that he was on parole. The man was charged with felony assault and vandalism, and sent to San Quentin Prison for violating his parole terms.

Sticks and Stones

A 39-year-old man was cited for battery on Sunday, May 30, at 7:30 p.m., after he allegedly grabbed a 12-year-old boy around the neck. According to the police report by Officer James Ahern, the suspect said that two boys taunted him and his daughter as he parked his car at 21st and Castro streets. The boys said the man exited his car and said, "You want to mess with me?" Then he grabbed one of the boys around the neck without choking him, let him go, and walked to a nearby house. The boy's mother came to the scene and wanted to resolve the incident by having her son apologize to the man for his taunts and the man apologize to her son for the assault. When the man refused, he was given a citation to appear in court in July.

Enjoy the Summer

This Police Beat will have to take you through August, since the Voice will be on vacation until September. Happy summer! Let's watch out for one another, and I'll see you on patrol.

San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers her Noe Valley beat-- from Valencia to Grand View and 21st to Cesar Chavez -- on foot and on bicycle. If you would like to discuss a crime or safety problem, call her at 558-5404, the community policing line at Mission Station.