Noe Valley Voice May 2001

Police Beat: Close Call at Wells Fargo Bank

The following crime summaries were culled from incident reports filed at Mission Police Station from March 1 through April 2, 2001.

Bank Robbery with Gun: March 20, 4:15 p.m., 4023 24th Street

Alerted that a bank robbery was in progress, Mission Station dispatched two police officers to the Wells Fargo mini-branch on 24th near Sanchez, at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20. When they arrived on the scene, the officers found the branch empty, except for a woman customer standing holding her baby. The woman, who seemed puzzled, said, "I'm the only one in here. I don't know where anyone is."

Upon searching the small branch--which is not a full-service bank, but rather a storefront office equipped only with ATMs--the police found a branch employee and two customers holed up in the bathroom. They told the officers that they had been forced into the bathroom at gunpoint by an unknown suspect. (The bank employee had notified police by using a cell phone while in the bathroom.)

The employee went on to describe the terrifying ordeal: He had been sitting behind his desk when a man entered the bank wearing all-black clothing and a mask to cover his face. The man then pointed a black revolver at the employee's face and demanded, "Give me the money, open the drawers."

When the employee replied that the bank does not carry any cash and began opening drawers to show the suspect no cash was there, the suspect grabbed him and pushed his head against the copy machine, injuring his ear. Next, he grabbed the employee by the back of his shirt and pulled him toward the ATM machines. The employee told the suspect that he didn't have keys to the machines, at which point the suspect herded him and the two customers into the bathroom. The suspect apparently then left the bank.

Police immediately broadcast the suspect's description and compiled a log of the crime. A police inspector from the Robbery Detail, along with a member of the FBI, later responded to the scene and took over the investigation. The suspect was still at large last month.

Suspicious Occurrence/Burglary of a House: Between 11 a.m. on March 24 and 11 a.m. on March 26, 4400 block of 24th Street

A woman called police to report a break-in at her home, located on 24th Street above Douglass. She was not in the house at the time of the break-in, since she had recently purchased the property and was in the process of remodeling it.

She said she left the premises on the morning of March 24, and upon her return two days later, found that the front door and lock had been damaged. She checked the house and discovered that the rear garage door had also been damaged. However, nothing was missing, even though she had left several tools and other valuable items inside the house.

The woman told police that a neighbor had informed her of a rumor circulating the neighborhood that the previous owners had hidden a substantial amount of money inside the house and were unable to find it before moving out.

After inspecting the house, which was still under construction, the police concluded that there was insufficient physical evidence to contact Crime Scene Investigations. Still, the officers provided the homeowner with a case number and follow-up form.

Aggravated Assault: April 2,
2:10 p.m., 24th and Diamond Streets

The afternoon of Monday, April 2, two officers responded to a call regarding five juveniles in a fight at 24th and Diamond streets. When the police arrived, a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl told them they had been beaten up by three "real big and tall" kids--two girls, 15 and 16, and a boy, 12--who had since fled east on 24th Street.

Police reported that the injured girl "was visibly shaken, upset and crying," and that her neck was swollen below her left ear, and there were several red marks on her neck and face.

Her account of the incident was that following a verbal exchange, one of the older girls had grabbed her by the hair, rammed her into a car, kicked and punched her, and pushed her to the ground. The older girl continued to punch her and kick her in the head, hitting her some 10 times, the victim said. She also said the other older girl joined in the hitting and punching.

The assaulted boy told police he'd had a prior problem with the other 12-year-old boy, over winning a basketball game. When the other boy got in his face this time, the targeted boy pushed him back in self-defense, at which time the other boy began to punch and hit him.

Luckily, a man driving by saw the melee, and made a U-turn and stopped his car. When he asked the teens what they were doing, they stopped fighting. The witness then notified the police by cell phone.

Shortly thereafter, another police officer spotted the three suspects going into the playground at James Lick. After the witness in the car identified them, they were transported to Mission Station. An ambulance came to treat the injured girl and boy, who called their parents to take them home.

At Mission Station, an officer took the statements of the three youths who'd been arrested, and notified their parents. (In one case, the youth had no home phone, so the police contacted the grandfather, who said he'd leave word with the teen's mother.)

The boy was released and driven home by two officers. The two girls were transported to Youth Guidance Center, where they were booked and fingerprinted.

Crime Reporting

The Voice would like to thank Mission Police Officer Lorraine Lombardo, our woman on the 24th Street beat and the San Francisco Council of District Merchants' Police Officer of the Year (see Rumors, page 49), for providing the Voice with the incident reports used for this month's Police Beat.

She and Mission Police Captain Ron Roth invite you to bring your questions or safety concerns to their regular community meeting, held at 6 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month at Mission Station, 630 Valencia Street. The next meeting is scheduled for May 29.

The Mission Police District includes the 24th Street commercial corridor as well as the northern half of Noe Valley, from Valencia to Grand View and 21st to Cesar Chavez Street. If you would like to report a problem occurring within that area or another part of the Mission, call Mission Station at 558-5400 or send an e-mail to To report anonymously on drugs, gangs, or other crime, call the non-traceable Mission Station hotline at 558-5452.

Forum on Burglary Prevention

Residents who live south of Cesar Chavez fall within the Ingleside Police District.

Ingleside Police Captain Marsha Ashe usually holds her community meetings on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Ingleside Station, 1 Sergeant John Young Lane (in the Balboa Park complex, off the 2000 block of San Jose Avenue). But this month, the station will host a two-hour burglary prevention symposium on May 15. All Noe Valley residents are welcome.

At the forum, the SFPD and San Francisco SAFE will present low-cost ways for people to make their homes or apartments less attractive to thieves. Captain Ashe points out that now is an especially good time to pick up these tips, since "warmer weather, rolling brownouts, and vacations make us more vulnerable to break-ins."

To reach the Ingleside Police Station, call 404-4000 or send an e-mail to

No matter where you live, to report a crime in progress, call 911. (Cell phone users should dial 553-8090, since dialing 911 automatically routes the call to the California Highway Patrol.) Finally, as Officer Lois Perillo would say, stay safe and look out for one another.