San Francisco Couple Searches for Smash-And-Grab Victims, Reunites Them With Their Belongings

A decade ago, Michael Hofman and Janet Moyer began hiking up San Francisco's Twin Peaks in search of exercise.

Once there, they found something else.

Litter. A lot of it.

So the married landscape professionals, who have lived in the neighborhood below the hills since 1983, began to pick it up along their tri-weekly route.

"If you live in a place that you love, you want to make sure it always looks good," Hofman said.

The past few years, though, Hofman and Moyer noticed and increase in one particular type of litter that bothered them.

"In the bushes along the road we began finding more and more backpacks and purses," Moyer said.

What they were finding were the leftovers from smash-and-grab car break-ins that were becoming more frequent along the road leading to Christmas Tree Point, a popular tourist spot with expansive views of the city and the bay beyond.

"The scenario is someone smash-and-grabs, drives away, and throws everything but the money out," Hofman said.

Garvin Thomas/NBC Bay Area
Janet Moyer and Michael Hofman estimate, over the years, they have returned belongings to about two dozen people, tourists and locals alike.

Still inside, Hofman and Moyer discovered, were driver's licenses, passports, and even prescription medication. All the things the thieves were not interested in.

"They don't seem to want credit cards," Moyer said.

Just because the items were not valuable to the crooks, doesn't mean they still didn't have value for their owners. Hofman and Moyer decided to do what they could to reunite the owners with their belongings.

Using names and addresses the found, the two began doing their best to track down the owners.

"It takes a little bit of forensic analysis," Hofman said.

Over the years, Hofman and Moyer estimate they have returned belongings to roughly two dozen people, both tourists and locals.

Hofman and Moyer say the reaction they get is often one of surprise followed by gratefulness.

"A lot of them are in tears," Moyer said.

Hofman and Moyer say they hate the thought of someone leaving San Francisco with a bad taste in his/her mouth after being the victim of a crime.

Returning the belongings, like picking up the litter, is simply a way to cast the city the love in a positive light.

"If we can, especially for the tourists, give them the feeling that they're people who care about them then it's just gonna make a much bigger difference."

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