The Chronicle‘s Matier and Ross reported this morning that California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s official car was broken into recently. It was parked in San Francisco’s Civic Center, “Right across from City Hall, in plain view of the mayor’s office,” he told the Chronicle.
Nearly everyone I know who owns a car in San Francisco has a story about a break-in. At an Easter dinner a few years ago, one of the guests was a customs officer who had been robbed several times. Once his car had been broken into, the hits kept coming. Anecdotally, that seems to be a common story: the same car is often targeted repeatedly. And shabbier cars may be more commonly robbed because they are an easier mark, compared to a more expensive and better protected Mercedes–at least, only the shabby cars have signs asking would-be robbers not to choose them and announcing that there is nothing of value inside. But the customs officer’s favorite detail was that the thieves took everything–bad CDs, even family photos–except for the books. In every instance, there was the same box of books and it was always passed over by the robbers.
A college classmate visiting from out of town was at that dinner. He was driving through California. Of course we discovered that his SUV had been broken into during our dinner. Whoever broke in took a sleeping pad, the kind you roll out while camping, but not the rather expensive-looking skis that were in the vehicle. The customs officer noted that it would look too suspicious if a junkie were seen carrying skis around the city.
And so it was that a couple of weeks ago, the week before I left for China, somebody broke into Alisa’s car. It was parked on our street, just two doors down from our house. We would not have realized it so soon, but a neighbor knocked on our door and asked if the afflicted car was ours.
We cleaned up the car by about 1 a.m. and drove down to the SFPD’s Mission Station, where the desk officer was profoundly unmoved by the situation. He tried to dissuade us from making any report. But Alisa insisted on at least producing some record of the break-in.
After hearing so many stories of car break-ins, I wondered if there were any statistics available for San Francisco. But I didn’t bother to investigate as my China trip loomed.
But now Matier and Ross have done the investigating for me. They write:
According to police statistics, so far this year, thieves have broken into cars in San Francisco an average of 32 times a day.
“That’s unacceptable,” said mayoral spokesman Nathan Ballard, “but it does show a 28 percent drop from last year,” when cars were being busted into 43 times a day.
“That said, we are sorry about what happened to the attorney general,” Ballard said.
So 32 by 365 (assuming the average does not change for the rest of this year) predicts 11,680 break-ins for 2007 (compared to 15,695 last year).
The next morning I called three places to get an estimate for repairing the broken window (front passenger side window). The first, A-1 Glass in the Bayview, estimated about $145, including installation. The second, Glass Pro, across from the Hall of Justice, said it would be $215, but I could get a discount to $178. The woman on the other end then asked me if I’d checked anywhere else. A-1 quoted me at $145, I said. We’ll do it for $140, she replied, immediately. This is exactly what the reviewers at Yelp said would happen at Glass Pro. I then called Karry’s Auto Body. He didn’t have the price on hand because he has to check with the supplier. He called me back after about three minutes and said it would be $146, including installation. He seemed trustworthy enough, without having to resort to fake discounts; plus his place was more convenient for me, so that’s where we went.