San Francisco

Visitors Staying Cautious Following Recent Robberies, Car Break-Ins in SF

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For decades, the words San Francisco led to thoughts of hills, a famed bridge or a curvy street. But in recent years, the city’s image has taken a hit. Now, some are asking if all that is not only changing perceptions – but harming the city’s tourism. Christie Smith reports.

For decades, the words San Francisco led to thoughts of hills, a famed bridge or a curvy street. But in recent years, the city's image has taken a hit. Now, some are asking if all that is not only changing perceptions but harming the city's tourism.

A string of problems from dirty streets to car break-ins and retail robberies have been cataloged in viral videos on social media.

But most visitors who NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith spoke to on Friday said that despite the recent incidents, it didn’t change their opinion of the city. However, it did change how they approached their visit.

Ryan Morales of the Dominican Republic and his partner were excited to see Fisherman’s Wharf, but their visit came with a word of caution from their hotel.

“They told us multiple times you try not to leave anything in the car, he said.

They are aware of the hundreds of videos on social media detailing car break ins, groups taking off with armloads of luxury items in Union Square.

While tourists are becoming aware, their reaction to all the issues were mixed.

“That’s one thing that didn’t actually stop us from coming you know. The burglaries a common thing where we come from New York as well,” Morales added. Randall Scott, executive director for the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District said that he wants to see more response from the city and state.

“We need to take action that’s what we want to see to welcome our tourists back saying yes we understand we have had problems in the past here is what we’re doing about it,” he said.

He said security guards advise people not to leave anything in their cars and he’s noticed more officers.

“We have seen definitely an increased police presence. It is very welcome and in our area, the employees feel safer. We have had employees be attacked,” Scott added.

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office says they want people to feel safe and that means sending the message that people are being arrested when they break the law and note recent arrests of two auto burglary crews and the addition of more welcome ambassadors.

The question for those who rely on tourism is whether that will be enough to keep tourists from going somewhere else?

“We went to San Rafael and dropped our suitcases off at our house. We came back because we didn’t want to have bags in the car because of everything that is happen,” said Stacey Davis.