SAN FRANCISCO—On August 16, at around 3:00 a.m. a person tried stealing a catalytic converter from a stolen vehicle.   

A resident by the name Morgan Heller of who lives near 24th and Anza, where the incident took place, awoke to loud sounds of drilling on that Tuesday morning. She called the police and reported what she believed to be a catalytic converter theft transpiring. 

Security video shows that around the time the resident made the police report a man backed a stolen Honda Accord into a parking space. A second suspect appeared on the video in a Jeep idling on the street. 

Police from the Richmond station arrived at the scene and the person in the Jeep took off. As police interrogated the suspect, who they pulled out from under the car, the residents who witnessed the theft in the act reported that they heard the officers let the suspect go. The suspect asked officials where the nearest bus stop was after they let him go according to reports. 

Heller told media outlets, “To see such inaction, its hard for me to understand what is the threshold for arrest and what is a reasonable expectation for police action.” After she heard the suspect ask for directions she said, “I was like, ‘Why not do the white-glove treatment and just order him an Uber? It was embarrassing… The overall assessment is that we have to do better than this.”

It was later learned that the suspect was on probation for previous property theft at the time the incident occurred. 

The Police Department did respond and admitted that their computer systems were down so they could not properly identify the suspect. They also could not find the owner of the stolen vehicle. The suspect hadn’t actually taken the catalytic converter yet, so there was technically wasn’t a theft. Since they lacked enough evidence they had to set the suspect free.  

In a statement the department wrote, “Our job is not just to enforce the law, but to ensure everyone is protected by the law. Releasing a possible suspect does not mean the investigation is over. In fact, it means the investigation is just beginning.”