SAN FRANCISCO—On Saturday, April 16, at around 2:20 p.m., a male suspect broke into the rental car of a tourist family of six and stole five suitcases and five backpacks at The Panhandle Park. A witness caught the incident on video which shows the suspect, a Caucasian male, committing the robbery in broad daylight on the 1500 block of Oak Street near Central Avenue.
San Francisco News spoke with Tracy Poon, the victim from New York who arrived on vacation in San Francisco with her husband, their two children and her elderly parents.
Poon and her family landed at 11 a.m. on April 16. The family decided to eat lunch and sight-see to kill time before they could check into the Home2 Suites Hotel by Hilton at 3 p.m.
At around 1:30 p.m., Poon and her family arrived at the Panhandle Park on Oak Street and Central Avenue – they parked their rental car to get out and walk around the neighborhood.
The family returned to their vehicle around 3 p.m. and spotted that a passenger window had been smashed and all of their luggage – five suitcases and five backpacks, encasing about $1,000 cash and her husband’s black MacBook laptop – was stolen. Tracy’s elderly parents who both suffer from heart conditions, had their medication stolen as well.
A resident of an apartment complex across the street observed the robbery and took two videos of the incident. Once Tracy and her family arrived back at their car, the witness called out to them and explained what happened.
The first video taken by the witness depicts a white Toyota Camry, license plate 8JUK075, parked next to the rental vehicle of the Poon family. In the video, the passenger window was already smashed and a male suspect appeared to be taking his time removing all of the luggage from the Poon vehicle and placing it into the white Camry.
According to the witness, the suspect fled the scene due to bystanders scaring them off, but apparently the suspects came back a second time to finish the job. In a second video, the witness captured the suspects grabbing the last of the items when police arrived at the scene. The suspects fled the scene with police in pursuit, but due to heavy traffic congestion, the suspects got away.
The Poon family called 911 to the scene, but authorities did not show up. They were advised to go to the local precinct to file a police report, which they did and they indicated they left feeling “disappointed.”
“The message that we got is that this happens all the time and that police have too many cases – almost 100 thefts reported a day – to solve,” Poon told San Francisco News. “We’re just another situation where tourists were careless. We’re from New York, it’s not like we don’t know crime exists, but this happened in broad daylight, this is beyond our comprehension,” Poon added.
Poon and her family will be returning to New York this Friday, and are hoping that they can recover some of their items, but they’re not expecting much.
“I’ve tried getting on to the Next Door app, but I can’t sign up because I do not have a local address,” Pood said. “We feel pretty helpless. We just want to say that if there really are over 100 cases of theft a day, visiting this city needs to come with a warning to all tourists,” Poon added.
The SFPD confirmed that the vehicle used in the incident was stolen. The suspect appears to be a Caucasian male with dark brown hair, age ranging from 25-30-years-old, and standing 5 feet and 11 inches.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. Tipsters may remain anonymous.