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Police Beat: Three Muggings in One Day
By Officer Lois Perillo
There were five reported robberies within my beat during February, three occurring on the same day.
On Saturday, Feb. 7, at 1:35 p.m., an 86-year-old woman walking on 24th Street near Guerrero was mugged by a man in his early 20s, who pulled her to the ground before fleeing with her purse. In response to her cries, many people came to her aid, and when I arrived, gave me information about what they had witnessed. Luckily, the woman was not injured. She, I, and one witness searched the area in my patrol car but did not find the suspect.
I drove the woman to her home and tried unsuccessfully to enter her flat without keys. The good news was, her home was secure against burglars. The better news was that a mile away, two women found the woman's purse -- less cash and keys -- and subsequently brought it to her home. Meanwhile, a family friend brought her an extra set of keys.
Another mugging happened later that day at 9:30 p.m. This time a 70-year-old woman, waiting for a bus at 24th and Church streets, was robbed of her purse by a man who surprised her from a recessed doorway. After snatching her bag, the 21-year-old man fled eastbound on 23rd Street in a waiting car. A witness provided a partial license plate number to the responding officers. However, after searching the area with the targeted woman, they failed to locate the suspect.
He's Baaack and He's in Custody
The third mugging of Feb. 7, which happened at 10 p.m. on the south side of 24th Street near Vicksburg, involved a 30-year-old woman who was robbed of money by a 19-year-old man. The suspect initially asked for $2, and when the woman didn't give it to him and continued walking, he ran after her, grabbed her, and then blocked her path. Fearing for her safety, she gave him a small amount of money from her pocket. The suspect then demanded her purse. She responded by walking toward an approaching car, as if she knew the occupants. The suspect then walked away west on 24th Street.
The targeted woman immediately went to 24th and Church, where she phoned police and gave a detailed description. This led to Officers Mario Molina and Andy Castro catching the suspect on Castro Street near Jersey. The woman later identified the man, who was taken to Mission Station and charged with second-degree robbery and false imprisonment. The district attorney dropped the latter charge, and the judge set bail at $100,000.
Upon cross-referencing the suspect's name, I found that he was the same man arrested Oct. 29, 1997, for cornering and robbing a woman in a laundromat at 22nd and Fair Oaks streets. As you may recall from the December Voice, the man was charged with robbery and indecent exposure, then released on bond.
Happy Donuts Sad About 'Till Tap'
Happy Donuts at 24th and Church became the victim of a "till tap" on Feb. 11 at 9 p.m. A man, who appeared to be about 35, reached into the cash register while the store clerk was busy, took money, and then fought with a witness who attempted to restrain him. The suspect broke from the witness and fled in a waiting cab.
In the last reported robbery of the month, on Feb. 19 at 7:35 p.m., a 30-year-old man entered Binky's Store, an antique shop on the 1000 block of Guerrero. He asked the 47-year-old clerk for change, then pulled out a semiautomatic handgun. The suspect handled the cash drawer before fleeing southbound on Guerrero with money and toys. Technicians from our Crime Scene Investigations unit collected evidence at the store.
Keep an Antenna up at Radio Shack
The manager of the "Downtown Noe Valley" Radio Shack reported to Officers Diane McKevitt and Susan Moneyhun that at noon on Feb. 11 a woman in her 20s, known as Lolita, tried to pull a fast one when she entered the store with a cell phone and demanded a cash refund, absent a receipt.
When the manager refused, stating that store policy required a receipt (and suspecting that the phone had actually been stolen), Lolita grabbed an antenna from a nearby display and hit the manager over the head before exiting. Afterwards, Lolita phoned the manager several times and told her, "You're dead, bitch. You better watch your back."
"Lolita" is still at large.
The good citizenship lesson here is that if you are within earshot or sight of an incident, stand by at a safe distance -- definitely beyond antenna range -- and observe what's going on. Your observations may later prove valuable. You also have the option of phoning the police or introducing a verbal distraction like, "Hey! Did you see those little green men outside in their spaceship?"
My point is, choose a level of involvement you feel safe with. Any step you take can make a difference.
Stalking and Domestic Violence Cases
A 31-year-old woman and resident of Duncan Street reported that her former boyfriend had repeatedly phoned her and sent flowers in early February, despite her ending the relationship two years ago, obtaining a restraining order, and moving across country to get away from him.
At reporting officer Ben Manning's request, Judge Slaybach issued an emergency protective order prohibiting the suspect from contacting the woman.
Meanwhile, of the five cases of domestic violence reported to police during February, three ended in arrest and felony charges filed against the suspects.
In another case, the district attorney dismissed charges against a 21-year-old man accused last October of battering his live-in girlfriend. The targeted woman has moved out of state.
A 33-year-old worker at Noe's Bar reported repeated phone calls to her work site by a 46-year-old woman who works at another bar on Dolores Street. That was the sixth report in as many years naming the same suspect.
'John the Baptist' Apprehended
You know Stephen. He is the 28-year-old man with a long, scraggly beard who looks 48 and who often rides a skateboard. Some have called him "a burnt-out John the Baptist."
According to Grand View Avenue residents, he's the guy who once lived under the Upper Market roadway with a noisy dog and two truckloads of stuff he'd collected. I contacted him many times and gave him service referrals, which he rebuked. Upon your and my requests, the debris was removed by the Department of Public Works, as coordinated by Aliz Davis, who also saw to it that the area was cleaned and secured several times.
According to Noe Valley Ministry users, Stephen is also the guy who often stayed inside the church after closing time and was found smoking, posing a serious hazard to the wood-frame building.
On Feb. 15 at 4 p.m., a sunny Sunday, I spotted Stephen and his skateboard in Bell Market's parking lot. I knew a judge had issued a no-bail warrant for him on a drug possession charge. When I approached Stephen, he immediately walked away. I stopped him, took his skateboard, and put it on the ground while I double-checked the warrant, using my radio.
When Stephen heard me call for a patrol car, he ran, somehow managing to take his board with him. First he went west on 24th, then south on Noe, then east on Jersey. I jumped on my bike, and people pointed out his path until I caught him, winded and trying to hide, on the 200 block of Jersey Street. When I asked why he had run from me, he said, "Because I thought you wouldn't talk to me."
After being transported to County Jail and charged with delaying arrest, Stephen was rebooked by the district attorney on his probation violation.
Curses, Foiled Again
A 39-year-old repeat burglar on probation, whom I'd watched casing the neighborhood on Feb. 22 (from about 2 to 2:30 p.m.), was taken into custody after I found him with drug paraphernalia.
I first spotted the man at Sanchez and 23rd streets, then followed him south on Sanchez, west on 25th, south on Noe, east on 26th, south on Dolores, and west on Cesar Chavez to Sanchez. At this point an older man drove up in a car and told me, "I'm following that man, too." He said he'd seen the suspect stop to check out his open garage, continuing to walk only after being confronted.
I contacted the suspect at 25th and Sanchez, established that he was on probation with a search condition, and subsequently found two syringes and a narcotics cooker -- a torn aluminum can coated with carbon residue and a brown sticky substance, which later tested as heroin.
The man was booked at Mission Station, then sent to County Jail, where he was released the next day (there was insufficient heroin to rebook him). Unfortunately, the district attorney did not file a probation violation.
Latest on Church Street Murder
On March 3, bail was set at $1 million for the 61-year-old man accused of murdering his tenant on the 1000 block of Church Street on Jan. 25, 1997. The man has remained in custody since his arrest last year.
Watch Out for One Another
As always, kudos to all of you who helped each other out. Continue your vigilance. Until next time, be safe and I'll see you on patrol.
San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers her Noe Valley beat by foot and by bicycle. If you would like to discuss a neighborhood problem, call her at 558-5404, the community policing line at Mission Station. (For emergencies, dial 911.)