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By Erin O'Briant
In a departure from past columns, this month's Police Beat is a review of crime incidents in Noe Valley occurring in the most recent month for which we have statistics. The area covered is bordered by Grand View, 21st, Guerrero, and 30th streets. The May 2006 crime information was culled from police newsletters and incident reports filed by both Mission and Ingleside Police Stations.
A church was burglarized, police made a big guns-and-drugs bust on 24th Street, and property crime continued apace in Noe Valley during May 2006. Also, three rapes were reported in the neighborhood (see story at right).
Several cases of assault, some of them with weapons, were reported in the heart of Noe Valley during the month of May. Many of them took place in the wee hours of the morning, including a case of battery on Sunday, May 14, reported at 1:30 a.m. in the 4000 block of 24th Street.
A string of aggravated assaults occurred on or near 24th Street, including an assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon, reported on Monday, May 1, at 1:47 a.m. In the case of an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon reported at 10:20 p.m. in the 1200 block of Church Street, the suspect has also been charged with making threats against life.
Not all assaults took place in the evening, though: One assault with a deadly weapon, which involved a juvenile, happened on Thursday, May 4, at 3:45 p.m., and another occurred at 1:20 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, at 25th Street and Grand View Avenue.
Only a couple of drug-related offenses happened in the neighborhood, but one was a doozy. According to Ingleside Police Capt. Paul Chignell, his station's Arson Task Force conducted a probation search on Tuesday, May 16, in the 4200 block of 24th Street along with Daly City police and units from Mission Station. During the search, three people were arrested, two rifles, and three other guns were confiscated, and "a quantity" of narcotics was seized. In an apparently unrelated matter, a person was charged with being under the influence of drugs in a public place on Friday, May 19, at 6:26 p.m. at an undisclosed location.
Noe Valley's ongoing property crime continued full force in May. At least 16 burglaries were reported throughout the neighborhood, most of them by forcible entry at apartment buildings or single-family residences. Two burglaries took place at construction sites--one such break-in was reported on Friday, May 12, on the 200 block of Valley Street, the other on Sunday, May 14, in the 300 block of Douglass Street. Burglars seemed to focus their efforts on the blocks between 22nd and 23rd streets and Fair Oaks and Vicksburg streets. A church in the 200 block of Valley Street was burglarized the morning of Friday, May 12.
Vandals struck the neighborhood several times, breaking windows and damaging property. Two cases of vandalism happened on 24th Street between Sanchez and Castro streets, and another took place close by on Sanchez Street near Elizabeth Street.
Victims reported at least 13 cases of theft or larceny in Noe Valley during May. One was a shoplifting case, and eight involved either grand or petty theft from a locked vehicle.
As usual, cars themselves were a top target for thieves, with 11 auto thefts reported in the neighborhood for May. Two of those took place on Grand View Avenue and another on Douglass Street between 24th and Clipper streets. Meanwhile, car thieves targeted Jersey Street, too, reportedly stealing three vehicles between Noe and Church streets.
To make crime reporting easier, the SFPD recently launched an online reporting system for the following crimes: lost property, vandalism, vehicle tampering, vehicle burglary, and harassing phone calls. For more information, visit the San Francisco Police Department's web site: www.sfgov.org/site/police.
The Voice thanks Noe Valley Police Officer Andrew MacIlrath and Ingleside Police Station Captain Paul Chignell for their help in providing information for this month's Police Beat.
How to Contact the SFPD
Both the Ingleside and Mission Police Districts hold monthly police-community meetings. Ingleside meetings take place on the third Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m., at Ingleside Station, 1 Sgt. John Young Lane, off the 2000 block of San Jose Avenue. Mission community meetings are held on the last Tuesday of the month, 6 p.m., at Mission Station, 630 Valencia Street near 17th Street. The public is invited.
Noe Valleyans who live north of Cesar Chavez Street (within the bounds of the Mission Police District) may contact Mission Station by calling 558-5400 or e-mailing SFPDMissionStation@ci.sf.ca.us. To report anonymously on drugs, gangs, or other crimes, call Mission Station's hotline at 575-4444.
Residents and merchants in Upper Noe Valley--south of Cesar Chavez Street--may contact Ingleside police by calling 404-4000 or e-mailing SFPDInglesideStation@ ci.sf.ca.us. The Ingleside anonymous tip line is 587-8984.
For citywide online reporting, go to www.sfgov.org/site/police.
To sign up for Ingleside Station's daily crime e-newsletter, e-mail Ingleside Capt. Paul Chignell at Paul.Chignell@sfgov.org. To request the Mission e-newsletter, write Capt. John Goldberg at SFPDMissionStation@ci.sf.ca.us.
To report a crime in progress, call 911. To report a non-emergency event or problem, call 553-0123.
Police have confirmed that three incidents of rape were reported in Noe Valley during the month of May. Because of strict confidentiality rules governing the investigation of sex crimes, police were only able to provide limited information about each case. "We're not trying to hide anything, but we are obligated by law to protect people if they request that," said Lt. Dan Leydon of the Police Department's Sexual Assault Detail.
Asked if he believed the three assaults represented an alarming increase in rapes, Leydon said, "I will say that that's not the case in the instances in Noe Valley. I don't think that there is any spike or pattern in the cases."
As of press time, an arrest may have been made in only one case. The rape was reported at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, May 3, in the southeast quadrant of Noe Valley. According to Ingleside Police Capt. Paul Chignell, "A 24-year-old woman went barhopping with a man she met that night in a bar on Mission Street. He was well-known to all of the bartenders."
The other two rapes took place later in the month. The first was reported on Friday, May 19, at 3:45 p.m. According to the San Francisco Police Department's online crime mapping system, the rape happened in a different location but also in the southeast quadrant of the neighborhood.
On Sunday, May 21, at 12:03 a.m., another rape was reported in the northeast part of Noe Valley. The suspect in this case has been charged with forcible rape, battery, malicious mischief, and vandalism.
According to the Police Department's Public Affairs Office, both rapes and the associated crimes remain under investigation. Officers would not reveal the gender or age of the victims or the circumstances of the two later rapes.
In addition, the Voice reported last month that a rape occurred in conjunction with domestic violence at 2:15 a.m. on Wednesday, April 5, in the 2000 block of Castro Street, between Duncan and 28th streets.
Although the crimes are frightening, Cindy Wandel of S.F. SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone) says, "It probably is a bit of a wake-up call, but I don't want people to say the neighborhood is going down the drain. This neighborhood is safe, generally speaking, but people need to be aware of their surroundings."
The best ways to stay safer, though, vary according to the type of crime.
Acquaintance rape, such as the incident that occurred on May 3, is one of the most common kinds of sexual assault. When out with friends at clubs or bars, Wandel says, "Stick together. Don't ever leave with someone you don't know or get separated with someone you don't know. If you get too intoxicated and you need to go home and you hop in a cab, make sure your friend knows you're getting in that cab and have them write down the number."
Staying safer from sexual assault by a stranger takes a different set of skills. "Stranger rape is usually less prevalent than being raped by someone you know," Wandel says.
According to her, both men and women should walk in well-lit areas at night, stay on streets with lots of people and cars, and trust their instincts. "If you're walking down the street and you see someone or a few people who look suspicious, then cross the street. When they interview survivors of sexual assault, the [victims] talk about having that weird feeling just prior to the assault. We have our instincts for a reason." She adds, "Even if people feel they're in a very safe neighborhood, [crime] does happen."
By Jon Shephard, SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone)
Have you ever parked your car in a large parking lot or garage, only to return without seeing it immediately? At first, you are annoyed. But as you continue to look for your car, the annoyance is suddenly replaced by fear of auto theft, as you see your parking place empty or another vehicle replacing yours in your parking space.
Or, somewhat lower on the aggravation scale is discovering that someone smashed your window and entered your car to steal items you left inside. This lesser aggravation, called auto burglary, is also known by its slang term: "auto-boosting."
Here are measures you can take to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of both of these auto-related crimes, by preventing access to the car or by slowing down the time it takes for the criminal to do his dirty deed.
* Close and lock car doors and windows (including the sun roof). If you leave an animal in the car, open a window as little as possible, but still open it enough to prevent overheating and suffocation.
* Never leave your vehicle with the engine running--not even for a second. Theft happens quickly, and the stolen car is more valuable with the key inside with an intact ignition. Also, do not leave a hidden key inside or outside your car. The thieves know where to find it.
* Leave nothing, valuable or not, in your car. Especially attractive targets are money, credit cards, cell phones, other electronic equipment, or even compact discs. Anything visible can attract the thief's attention.
* At home, park your car in your locked garage or driveway, rather than in the street. Otherwise, park where there is plenty of light and traffic, with people living or walking nearby. This creates potential witnesses and light for them to see thief, who will look for a more attractive target. Also, when you park on the street, curb your wheels, with your brakes on, and the transmission in Park. Make it hard for your car to be moved or towed. Also, never leave you garage door control device in your car.
* Use anti-theft devices (like the Club, alarms, disabling devices for steering, breaks, ignition, motor, etc.) and activate them when you park the car. Use special license plate locking screws to make it hard for thieves to remove your license plate during a theft.
* Remove papers with your name and address from your vehicle. Keep your car registration certificate with you and the title (pink slip) outside the car in a secure location. Do not have your name and address on your car keys.
For more information about these and other ways to prevent auto theft and burglary, contact SAFE at 553-1984 or at www.sfsafe@org.