Noe Valley Voice October 1999

Police Beat: Grab-n-Run and Gunpoint Robberies

By Officer Lois Perillo

There were three robberies within the area I cover during the month of August, two of them occurring within two blocks and one day of each other.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, at 11:35 a.m., five people entered a business at 22nd and Dolores streets and stole money while one person distracted the worker by pretending to leave the store with unpaid merchandise. When the worker noticed the exiting suspect and left the counter to confront her, another suspect grabbed the money. This incident was classified as a robbery when the worker and the departing suspect struggled.

On Monday, Aug. 30, at 3:30 p.m., two 29-year-old women walking west on 25th Street toward San Jose Avenue were robbed at gunpoint by a 16- to 24-year-old male and his two companions. No one was injured in the incident. In a positive turn of events, BART police later recovered one of the women's stolen belongings -- absent the money -- on a Pittsburg/Bay Point BART train and returned the property to her.

The third reported robbery in August occurred the next evening at 10 p.m., near 23rd and San Jose Avenue. In this incident, two 18-year-old men robbed three women in their late 20s and 30s. One of the men brandished a small automatic gun, ordered the women to give him "everything," and threatened to shoot them if they refused. The second suspect collected the women's property, then pat-searched them to ensure their cooperation. The bad guys then ordered the women to walk west on 23rd toward Guerrero, while they headed eastbound toward Valencia Street.

Upon reaching Guerrero, the women phoned police, who searched the area but did not find the suspects. Officer Greg Ortega noted that this robbery was the third in a series that occurred Aug. 31 in the Mission Police District. In all three cases, the suspects' physical descriptions, clothing, and weapons matched.

The prime suspect is described as an 18-year-old African-American male, 5889, 145 pounds, having black hair with shaved sides, and a three-inch scar on his left cheek. Anyone with information regarding these cases is asked to call Inspector Michael Dudoroff of the Robbery Detail at 553-1201.

String of Burgs on Chattanooga

Noe Valley and the surrounding area of my beat reported 16 burglaries during August, including nine to apartments, five to houses, and two to garages. This was twice the number reported in July, but five of the burgs were committed between Aug. 1 and 13, on the east side of the 200 block of Chattanooga Street.

In one case, the suspect used an unlocked door to enter a woman's apartment while she slept. The intruder stole the woman's purse and left.

The good news is, police arrested two suspects for criminal activity at two other locations in the neighborhood. One of them was not too far from the Chattanooga burglaries:

On Saturday, Aug. 28, at 3 p.m., a 27-year-old woman living on the 1000 block of Dolores was awakened by the sound of a person in her apartment. She called out, and a man replied that he had walked in the open front door, "looking for Betty." The woman yelled for the man to leave, and he ran from her apartment, exiting to Mersey Alley (between Dolores and Chattanooga). After he fled, she discovered that he had stolen her cell phone and pager. She then called the police.

Officer Lorraine Lombardo responded and noted that the suspect had apparently broken a bathroom window and a sunroom window to gain entry. Lombardo contacted a crime scene investigator, who came to the apartment and collected evidence linked to the suspect.

The Burglary Detail investigated the case and issued a warrant for 23-year-old Eric Yamamoto, who was on probation for both burglary and drug possession. On Sunday, Aug. 29, Officer Michael Palada arrested Yamamoto and booked him on first-degree burglary, with bail set at $50,000. The District Attorney's office also moved to revoke Yamamoto's probation. He is currently in custody at County Jail awaiting his court date.

Arrest in Domestic Violence Case

A 45-year-old man with a criminal history of battering his 47-year-old live-in girlfriend was arrested on Friday, Aug. 27, at 10 p.m. He was charged with battery and threats, which are both felonies.

When Officer Trenia Wearing responded to a house on 26th Street between Valencia and Guerrero, she found the girlfriend, her 12-year-old daughter, and the suspect standing on the sidewalk. The man was yelling threats of bodily harm at both females. Officer Wearing handcuffed the suspect and learned from the young girl that he had assaulted her mother and threatened to kill them.

Although the woman had fresh bruises on her upper body, she denied having been assaulted. She said, "He only says those things when he's been drinking, and he doesn't mean anything by it."

However, when the daughter described that day's assault and one from the day before, Officer Wearing arrested the suspect, who then told the targeted woman that he would return to kill them. While at the station, the man also threatened to kill a police officer.

The suspect was charged with two felonies, which the D.A.'s office later rebooked. The D.A. also added two misdemeanor charges. The man remains in custody pending his court date.

At the request of Officer Wearing, Judge Parker Meeks also issued an emergency protective order (EPO), ordering the batterer to move from the residence he shares with the woman and her daughter, and prohibiting any contact with them. Although this order is a temporary measure lasting only five days, the judge also issued a "stay-away order," which lasts as long as the court proceedings continue.

If a stay-away order had not been issued, the woman could have applied for a longer restraining order herself, through Superior Court.

Residents should know that anyone may apply for a restraining order at any time, regardless of the existence of a criminal or civil case. If a subject violates the judge's order, he or she faces arrest and citation, and a court date. A repeat violation means arrest and booking at the county jail.

Restraining orders are not fail-safe mechanisms. However, they are tools that can help those targeted with domestic violence to reclaim control of their lives. Counseling services, shelters, job training, and victim/witness support are other alternatives.

Some Local Resources

W.O.M.A.N. Inc. (24-hour hotline) 864-4722

S.F. Neighborhood Legal Assistance
(for restraining Orders) 982-1300

Volunteer Legal Service (Bar Assn.) 989-1616

Community United Against Violence
(same-sex domestic violence) 333-4357

S.F. Women Against Rape 647-7273

Rape Treatment Center 821-3222

The Talk Line (children) 441-KIDS

Children Trauma Project 206-5323

Mt. Zion Violence Prevention (children) 885-7636

Men Overcoming Violence ­ MOVE
(offenders) 777-4496

ManAlive (offenders) 979-5933

SFPD Domestic Violence Response Unit
850 Bryant St. #561
(criminal complaint followup) 553-9225

I'll close with a quote from the Family Violence Prevention Project (553-1361): "There is no excuse for domestic violence. Domestic violence or assault by a person you know, including your spouse, is a crime."

Con Man Returns -- Again

News Flash. Dateline: Bernal Heights and the Castro. Joseph Lawrence, a.k.a. Jim the Con Man (sometimes Tim), continues his smooth ruse. Thanks to last month's column in the Voice and a piece in the Bernal Journal, more than 20 residents called me about the doings of Lawrence. Inspector Mark Sullivan even got a positive I.D. of Lawrence from two of you. Good job!

Meanwhile, Lawrence knocked on the door of an off-duty police officer living in the Castro and began his spiel, which ended abruptly after he dropped my name. (Yes, the cad actually used my name.) When the off-duty officer acknowledged knowing me, Lawrence asked, "How is that?" Upon hearing the answer, "I work with her," Lawrence said his goodbyes and hurried away.

Spread the word to your friends and family throughout the city that "Jim" persists in his con game: asking for donations to his daughter's soccer team and claiming to be your neighborhood's block caption. Perhaps a recent felony drug arrest, joined with a false solicitation and theft charge, will stop him in his tracks. But don't bet on it.

Until next month, let's continue to 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.