Car Break-In Caught on Camera in One of San Francisco's Hottest Tourist Spots

While reporting on a rise in car break-ins in San Francisco, NBC Bay Area caught the moment a car was targeted in Fisherman's Wharf Wednesday afternoon

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San Francisco is banking on the return of tourists to help dig it out of the economic hole that COVID-19 created. But even as the pandemic wanes, the city has another issue -- a jump in car break-ins in some of the city’s hottest spots. 

A mother and daughter visiting Fisherman’s Wharf from Chicago Wednesday got a very unhappy memory to take home with them. They returned to their car on Beach Street to find broken windows and missing belongings.

“I love San Francisco, this is not what I think of it,” said the tourist. “We rode the bridge and came back and going to eat we both said 'it's going to happen.'"

NBC Bay Area caught the moment their car was targeted, and so did plenty of other people including a tourist from Virginia and Florida, one who pulled out his phone.

An NBC Bay Area crew working on a report on car burglary hot spots in San Francisco catches one in the act Wednesday, June 9, on Beach Street, near Larkin Street.

“I heard glass shattering on the ground and I turned around and I saw this guy who had just broken the window and he jumped into the back of the car and jumped in his car which was parked next to where he was going to go back in,” said Sandy Doyle of Florida.

Kenneth Heinz of Virginia said the person was clear they didn’t want him taking pictures and said he was shocked to see it happen there.

“He smashed the window, opened it up, opened the hatch and took some stuff. Opened up the luggage and took things and then slammed it that’s when I walked over and started taking pictures,” said Kenneth Heinz of Virginia.

Police were on the scene in minutes and said they’re deploying as many officers as they can to the tourist areas where they see an uptick.

While auto burglaries are down citywide, in the Central District -- which includes Fisherman’s Wharf -- they’re up more than 100% over last year.

Broken glass is everywhere and businesses owners say it’s a nonstop problem.  

“For me it's frustrating to have a front row seat and there are days when I call the police five or six times,” said a business owner who said he tries to warn everyone he can. “When I'm near the shop and I see people parking, especially families with out of state plates, lots of luggage, I tell them ‘hey you may want to take your most valuable things with you or park in the garage.’”

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