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By Erin O'Briant
Overall crime in Noe Valley dropped nearly 34 percent during February 2007 over the previous month. Just 49 incidents were reported in February, as compared with 74 incidents in January.
Police received reports of three assaults, nine burglaries, two drug incidents, 14 cases of petty theft (many of them in shops on 24th Street), and six instances of vandalism in the neighborhood.
February was a relatively good month for auto owners: only seven vehicle thefts were reported, less than half the number of auto thefts the month before. All of the vehicles were stolen from areas on or north of Clipper Street.
Robbery was the only category in which crime increased during February: the number of those crimes doubled. Eight street robberies, some of which involved life-threatening weapons, were reported in Noe Valley, and a carjacking happened just outside the neighborhood at 24th and Guerrero streets.
According to Public Information Officer Sgt. Steve Mannina, the carjacking took place at 4:15 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 24, when a young man took the vehicle from the driver at knifepoint. The 18- to 19-year-old suspect is still at large; the stolen vehicle was recovered later that day.
Series of Stickups
Suspects threatened victims with guns during six of the eight February street robberies, most of which took place in the eastern half of the neighborhood.
Late in the evening of Thursday, Feb. 22, a suspect approached a person walking near 24th and Church streets, brandished a gun, and demanded the victim's laptop. The victim turned over the computer and fled on foot.
Two robberies with guns took place on Fair Oaks Street, one at 22nd Street in the early morning hours of Friday, Feb. 2, and another near 25th Street just after 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10. A strongarm robbery happened on Valley Street between Sanchez and Church around 8 p.m. the evening of Sunday, Feb. 25. A robbery with bodily force took place at 25th and Church streets during the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 7.
Robberies where guns were used also took place on 22nd Street between Dolores and Chattanooga streets, on Clipper Street between Castro and Diamond streets, and at Dolores and 23rd streets (see last month's Letters to the Editor at www.noevalleyvoice.com).
2 Muggers, 1 Burglar Arrested
Meanwhile, the officers at Mission Police Station announced that the San Francisco District Attorney had charged two suspects, Milo Otha-Mayer and Mitchell Burch, with 16 felony counts of robbery and receiving stolen property. These suspects were arrested in connection with a string of robberies that took place in several San Francisco neighborhoods, including Noe Valley. According to the Mission Station newsletter, an off-duty police officer helped crack the case when he spotted a vehicle that the suspects had used in their getaways.
Police also arrested a Noe Valley burglar when he failed to escape after burglarizing a residence on Church Street near 21st Street during the early morning hours of Sunday, Feb. 11. When officers responded to a report of a man breaking into the rear door of an occupied home, they discovered the man still on the premises, stuck on the back fence he had attempted to climb over. They took him into custody.
Two people were arrested for domestic violence in Noe Valley. In one case, a person assaulted a roommate; in another, an inebriated ex-boyfriend struck his victim with various objects. The Noe Valley Voice does not publish locations or specific details of domestic violence cases because doing so may jeopardize the victims' safety.
Dozens of Drivers Cited in Guerrero Traffic StingsNoe Valley residents told police they feared for their lives while walking across busy intersections in the southeastern corner of the neighborhood, and officers patrolling the area saw many drivers failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians. In response, Capt. Paul Chignell ordered Ingleside Station officers to conduct two traffic "stings" in February.
The first sting took place on Thursday, Feb. 1, from 8 to 11 a.m., at Valley and Guerrero streets. A plainclothes officer attempted to cross the intersection while cars sped by on. Officers issued citations to those drivers who failed to yield the right of way to the undercover pedestrians. They issued 44 citations that day. On the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 28, officers issued an additional 30 tickets in a similar operation at 28th and Guerrero streets.
According to Ingleside Station's Sgt. Jim Miller, who supervised the first February sting, most drivers assume they have the right of way because they are on a busy street and are driving relatively fast. "They are forgetting the basics they learned a long time ago, either via driver's training or in the [Department of Motor Vehicles] handbook," he explains. "Pedestrians have the total right of way in either a marked or unmarked crosswalk." Some drivers, Miller says, assume that if a pedestrian steps off the curb to cross the street and then stops, the pedestrian has yielded the right of way to the driver. "Wrong! The driver should stop and allow the pedestrian to cross unless the pedestrian somehow clearly communicates that he or she wants to give up the right of way."
To avoid getting a ticket during future traffic stings, Miller says, drivers should stay attuned to pedestrians and make eye contact with them. Pedestrians should also make eye contact and give clear hand signals to drivers. "Remember, a pedestrian will never win in a pedestrian-versus-car collision." Always look before crossing the street, he advises, and don't assume cars will stop.
Noe Valley pedestrians and drivers, Miller adds, will see more traffic stings in the future.
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 within the bounds of the Mission Police District (north of Cesar Chavez Street) 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.
The SFPD now has an online reporting system for the following crimes:
* Lost Property
* Vehicle Tampering
* Vehicle Burglary
* Harassing Phone Calls
Using this system allows you to submit a report and immediately print out a copy. Additional information is available at the Police Department's web site: www.sfgov.org/site/police.