Bay Area poll finds fear of crime is a deterrent to people returning to downtown

A business group called the Bay Area Council released a poll yesterday that found area residents were increasingly concerned about crime. Crime ranked third on a list of top concerns behind homelessness and the high cost of housing. But a significant majority said that fear of crime was a major reason they avoided returning to downtown.


Jim Wunderman, the council’s president and CEO, called those fears “a serious deterrent” as businesses attempt to rebound from two years of COVID restrictions. Of the Bay Area residents asked, 65% said they were avoiding going to big city downtowns because of crime.

“Fears about crime are a serious deterrent to getting people back onto transit and back into our downtowns and business districts,” Wunderman said in a news release. “Bringing the hammer down on crime and ensuring public safety isn’t a debatable question, it’s a fundamental responsibility of local government and law enforcement. The deep concern reflected in these poll results should be a clarion call to our local leaders to do what’s necessary to make our cities, neighborhoods and transit systems safe for everyone.”…

When asked about crime in general, the respondents overwhelming cited fears of becoming victims of car and home break-ins. That was closely followed by violent crime, the public drug use and panhandling and public nuisances…

“I think you ask a lot of folks in our cities, they either have personally had their car broken into and the glass smashed,” said  Wunderman. “Or their best friend for the neighbor or family member has. I think it’s close to people, these kinds of property crimes.”

NBC Bay Area did an investigative report on car break-ins last year. At the time, the city was averaging about 74 break-ins per day.


The northeast part of San Francisco remains the hardest hit in the city by the latest wave of car burglaries. After a dip in break-ins at the start of the pandemic, coinciding with fewer tourists in town, smash and grabs have since skyrocketed 187%, compared to last year, in the city’s Central Police District, which includes Union Square, China Town, and Fisherman’s Wharf. However, 2020 was not a typical year. The pandemic kept tourists out of San Francisco, so car break-ins were at record lows. But even when comparing current car burglary rates to pre-pandemic levels, smash and grabs along the city’s most popular tourist attractions are still up 9% this year. Unsuspecting tourists who leave suitcases, laptops, and cameras, inside their vehicles, are often the main targets, losing their valuables in just seconds.

Here’s a graph showing how SF leads the pack on break-ins when compared to other major cities.

Just this week a local news reporter posted this photo of a car in SF. The owner had left thieves a note begging them to rob someone else, preferably a Tesla owner.


It’s actually worse than that. In December, ABC 7 reported that some drivers were leaving their trunks open so that thieves wouldn’t smash the back windows.

“I’m shocked,” said former SFPD Deputy Chief Garret Tom. “There’s so much that can go wrong here.”

We’ve heard of cars being left unlocked, windows rolled down, but now some people are leaving their trunks open too. It’s raising eyebrows as reports of car break-ins are on the rise in San Francisco and Oakland…

Former SFPD Deputy Chief Garret Tom says in his nearly 40 years on the force, he’s never seen people resort to this to protect their windows.

“We’re in different times… that’s unbelievable,” he told ABC7’s Stephanie Sierra as he glanced at the picture.

No wonder people are afraid of visiting downtown.

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