Noe Valley Voice September 2006

Police Beat

Attacks on Church and Fair Oaks Still Unsolved

By Erin O'Briant

The summer has been difficult for some residents of Noe Valley. Fortunately, no rape cases were reported in the months of June and July--after three reports of rape in May and one in April. The news isn't all good, though: a string of street robberies has alarmed residents (see story below), a man was beaten unconscious on Church Street, and a neighborhood woman was threatened with rape when a man broke into her home.

A burglar broke into the Fair Oaks Street home in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 9. He held his victim at gunpoint and forced her to disrobe. The suspect threatened the victim with rape and commanded her to walk through the house opening drawers and doors. Fortunately, the suspect did not actually rape the victim.

Dewayne Tully, spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department Public Affairs Office, said that a burglary inspector has been working in conjunction with the sex crimes unit to investigate the case. "Police worked on leads and identified two suspects, but the victim could not identify them in a photographic lineup," he explained. The inspectors are continuing to follow up on leads, but in mid-August the suspect was still at large.

Another Noe Valley crime victim faced life-threatening injuries. For reasons that were not clear to police, a man was brutally attacked on Church Street between 23rd and 24th streets by six suspects on Wednesday, July 19. The victim suffered a serious head injury and was unconscious when police arrived. Medics transported him to the hospital. The case inspector would not provide additional information.

A man who was waiting for a bus at Church and 30th streets in the late afternoon of Thursday, July 27, reported that two suspects approached him, interrogated him about gang activity, and then demanded money. When the victim tried to walk away, the suspects stabbed him in the side. The victim was able to walk to a hospital for assistance.

Arrests Made

Officers made a number of arrests during June and July. On Tuesday, June 13, Ingleside police officers responded to a report of a suspect with a weapon on the bus at 29th and Church streets. The bus driver directed police to a man on the street, and the officers discovered that the suspect was carrying brass knuckles. He was arrested.

Officers went to a church in the 300 block of 29th Street on Tuesday, June 20, to help with an ongoing problem: a person sleeping regularly on the premises. They discovered that the suspect, who was apparently homeless, was wanted on felony assault and battery charges; an arrest was made.

A resident of Clipper Street was arrested on multiple counts Thursday, June 29, after he stole a car in Alameda with a "master key" and then drove it for two days. Officers saw the suspect driving suspiciously at 24th and Noe streets and also found that he was in possession of narcotics.

Odd Crimes

Many unusual incidents took place in the neighborhood during June and July. Residents of Noe Valley made several reports of obscene phone calls. Someone reported that a person in the 500 block of Elizabeth Street attempted to poison an animal, and two cases of dog bites were reported, one in the 1500 block of Dolores Street on June 15 and another in the 800 block of Douglass Street on Tuesday, June 27. A suspect set fire to a vehicle in the 400 block of Elizabeth Street; the incident was reported on Friday, June 2, at 3:45 p.m.

The Usual Suspects

As usual, vehicle thefts occurred throughout the neighborhood during June and July. The area south of Clipper Street and west of Castro Street seems to be a relatively safe place to park a car, but autos were stolen from every other part of Noe Valley. Burglaries, too, happened throughout the neighborhood, with heavy concentration west of Castro Street and north of Cesar Chavez Street. Vandals hit four times on (or just off) Church Street, once on Fair Oaks, once on Jersey, once at Dolores and 29th streets, and once on Castro near 22nd Street. Yet another act of vandalism occurred on Noe Street at 25th Street.

Increase in Muggings Part of Citywide Trend

By Erin O'Briant

Seven muggings, many of them with guns, took place in Noe Valley during June and July, according to incident reports filed with the San Francisco Police Department. Three more, plus an armed robbery, occurred just outside the boundaries of the neighborhood. Police say the numbers aren't surprising, considering a citywide rise in street robberies.

A 14-year-old was robbed of a cell phone and iPod at 30th and Sanchez streets in the early afternoon on Wednesday, June 21. The suspect simulated carrying a gun. A suspect also used a gun in a street robbery at Clipper and Sanchez streets on Thursday, July 27. "Strongarm" robberies, where the suspects threatened force, occurred at Dolores and 28th streets on Tuesday, June 6; at Jersey and Sanchez streets on Thursday, June 29; and at Diamond and Elizabeth streets on Monday, July 17.

An attempted robbery took place on 24th Street between Castro and Noe streets on Sunday, July 2, around 8 p.m. According to a report from Mission Station, the suspects showed their would-be victims, who were window-shopping, a gun and demanded money. When the victims yelled for help, the suspects fled. Officers detained the suspects several blocks away, and the victims were able to identify them. One adult and one juvenile were arrested. A store was robbed at gunpoint around the same time on Castro Street adjacent to 24th Street.

A Fair Oaks Street woman and a companion were held at gunpoint while walking home from a laundromat on Saturday, June 24, at approximately 2 p.m. The suspect demanded the victims' cash and cell phone, which he took. He then escaped, possibly with accomplices in a vehicle. Police were unable to find the suspect at the time, but later arrested him, according to Lt. John Loftus, who is in charge of the SFPD's Robbery Detail.

Just a stone's throw from Noe Valley, a strongarm mugging happened at 24th Street and San Jose Avenue on Monday, June 5. A street robbery without a gun took place in the 100 block of Randall Street on Wednesday, July 12, but muggers used a gun in a street robbery at 24th and Guerrero streets on Monday, July 31. An armed robbery with a gun also took place in the 100 block of Tiffany Avenue that day. The robberies and muggings have happened at all times of day and night and are not concentrated in the evening hours.

According to Loftus, this increase in robberies is part of a larger trend. "We're not exactly sure what's driving these additional robberies [in San Francisco]," he notes. "We're seeing a lot of robberies being reported for iPods, cell phones, and laptop computers. So we think the new societal trend wherein people are walking around carrying these electronic devices is proving a tempting target."

In another common scenario, says Loftus, "We see cases where the suspect will initiate contact with the victim and ask for $2, the person gives it to [the suspect], and then they still get robbed."

Although this number of street robberies is unusual for the neighborhood, some other kinds of violent incidents happened during the same time period a year ago. In June and July of 2005, one strongarm street robbery was reported, along with an attempted homicide at 24th and Guerrero streets, gang activity on Elizabeth Street, an assault with caustic chemicals, and an aggravated assault with bodily force. The year before that, in June and July of 2004, there was an armed robbery at Radio Shack and an aggravated assault case that resulted in injuries to several people, including police officers.

Asked what he could say to neighbors about street crime in Noe Valley, Loftus said, "We don't see Noe Valley as being in any way targeted."

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

The public is invited to attend police-community meetings held monthly at the Ingleside and Mission Police Stations.

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.

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

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@ The Ingleside anonymous tip line is 587-8984.

For citywide online reporting, go to

To sign up for Ingleside Station's daily crime e-newsletter, e-mail Ingleside Capt. Paul Chignell at

To request the Mission e-newsletter, write Capt. John Goldberg at

To report a crime in progress, call 911. To report a non-emergency event or problem, call 553-0123.