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By Erin O'Briant
Crime in Noe Valley continued to abate during March 2007. During the month, police received reports of 55 crimes, as compared with 74 in January. There were two drug incidents, five assaults, seven burglaries, 10 vehicle thefts, 11 cases of vandalism, and 20 incidents of theft or larceny.
Although crime was up slightly from February--when 49 incident reports were filed--no street robberies were reported in March and most of the neighborhood's criminal activity was vehicle-related. One reason the bad guys may have shied away was that police were more visible. Officers from Ingleside Police Station, which serves Noe Valley south of Cesar Chavez Street, issued nearly a thousand traffic citations in an effort to slow traffic and protect pedestrians.
Tickets for Troublemakers
Ingleside Police Station Capt. Paul Chignell announced that officers from his station issued 943 moving traffic citations during February, the highest number in the city. But that was nothing compared to March, when officers from that station issued a whopping 1,495 traffic citations, according to statistics provided by Chignell. That was about double the number issued by the same station the month before--765. During the last week in March alone, Ingleside officers issued 387 tickets.
According to Chignell, the average number of monthly tickets per police station is between 300 and 600. He said officers ticketed drivers who were speeding or ignoring stop signs in response to community requests and concerns about pedestrian safety. Overall, San Francisco police issued 11,961 traffic citations during March, up from 8,017 during the same month the year before.
Four Wheels, No Brakes
Several unusual crimes involving cars took place in Noe Valley during March. At 8 p.m. on the first day of the month, a Thursday, an officer stopped a person who was having trouble moving his vehicle out of a parking spot at 29th and Sanchez streets. He also appeared to be drunk. When the man refused to get out of his car, the officer arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol.
A few minutes later, two other officers arrested a domestic violence suspect who lives in Noe Valley. He had allegedly injured his wife's leg by slamming a car door on it. The man was arrested on three felony charges.
Late in the evening of Sunday, March 25, a cab driver took a customer to the 400 block of 29th Street. When they arrived, however, the customer refused to pay the fare. The driver locked him in the cab until he paid. He did--but as the customer left, he allegedly punched the cab driver in the face. Responding officers found the suspect, who lives on the block, hiding near a parked vehicle. He was cited for battery.
Burglars Like Warm Weather, Too
In the Mission Station newsletter issued March 26, Lt. Tim Oberzeir offered some suggestions for keeping your home safe from burglary. Here's what he wrote:
"I thought it would be helpful to remind residents to secure their homes when leaving for the day. It's not a coincidence that burglaries increase during warm weather months. Burglars are not skilled professionals. They take advantage of an easy target.
"Although home burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a selection process. The burglar's selection process is simple: choose an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and the best escape routes. Make your property more difficult to enter and less enticing. Secure your doors and windows."
Oberzeir also advised residents who would like a free security assessment of their home or apartment to call the non-profit safety organization San Francisco SAFE at 553-1966.
Police Tow Abandoned Cars
Police officers are also working to get abandoned vehicles off the streets. If you see a vehicle on your block with a registration that has been expired for six months or more, e-mail Capt. Chignell at Paul.Chignell@sfgov.org or Mission Police at SFPDMissionStation@ci.sf.ca.us. The officers will have the car towed unless they discover that the fees have already been paid.
How to Contact the SFPD
Noe Valley is covered by two police districts, Mission and Ingleside. The northern half of the neighborhood, including 24th Street, falls within the Mission Police District, which extends east of Twin Peaks to the Bayshore Freeway and south of Market Street to Cesar Chavez Street. The southern half (Upper Noe Valley) is the territory of the Ingleside Police District, which runs south from Cesar Chavez Street to the San Mateo County line.
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.
"Downtown" Noe Valleyans may reach Mission Station by calling 558-5400 or e-mailing SFPDMissionStation@ci.sf.ca.us. To report anonymously on drugs or gangs, call Mission Station's hotline at 575-4444.
Residents and merchants in Upper Noe Valley 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 SFPDMission Station@ci.sf.ca.us.
To report a crime in progress, call 911. If it's a non-emergency, call 553-0123.
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 instantly print out a copy. Additional information is available at the SFPD's web site: www.sfgov.org/site/police.