Who can forget the mass smash-and-grab at a San Francisco Louis Vuitton in November? As CNN and others reported, it was just one example of a property crime rampage in several major cities. Nationally, the reported property crime rate has actually dropped steadily since the 1990s, per Statista, and SFist notes overall property crimes in San Francisco are down 11% compared to 2019 (though up over 2020 numbers). Be that as it may, the trend feels different on San Francisco's streets, where smashed storefronts are a regular occurrence and thefts from cars averaged 57 a day in 2021. According to the Wall Street Journal, which examines the San Fran's efforts to address the issue, everyone is looking for solutions and casting blame.
The city is trying to help, not only with more cops and investigators but also a new grant program to help repair storefronts; it's doled out more than $500,000 to roughly 400 business. The city's Small Business Commission raised funds from businesses to offer rewards "up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in criminal rings," particularly fencing operations that move stolen goods, per the San Francisco Standard. Business owners are also beefing up security with costly upgrades.
The finger-pointing is multidirectional. Locals tend to blame the city's homeless population and drug users, but law enforcement blames organized gangs. The police department’s no-chase policy for nonviolent crimes makes it easy for getaway drivers, but police say they don't bother with arrests because they doubt the district attorney will file charges. DA Chesa Boudin—elected in 2020 as part of what Journal calls a "national progressive prosecutor movement"—points back at police for not arresting thieves in the first place. His version was bolstered by surveillance footage that showed officers passively observing a robbery in progress at a cannabis dispensary in November, per the San Francisco Chronicle. Still, Boudin faces a recall election in June. (Read more smash-and-grab stories.)