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The following crime summaries were culled from incident reports filed at Mission Police Station from March 27 to April 17, 2001.
Church Burglary, Forcible Entry: Between 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 27, and 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28; 725 Diamond Street
Early in the morning on March 28, an employee of St. Philip's Church, on Diamond near 24th Street, found that two church collection boxes had been torn from the floor in the church building, even though they were each secured with three 6-inch screws. An unknown amount of money had been taken from the boxes.
The back door on the north side of the church building had also been pried open. Police observed pieces of the door lock and wood on the ground.
The church employee noted that the church had been burglarized on two previous occasions and that the back door of the building was the point of entry in those cases as well. Police advised the church employee that a more secure door might deter future burglaries.
Police determined that the back door and collection boxes were not likely to produce fingerprint evidence. They also searched the area for suspects, witnesses, and evidence, but found none. Nearby residents were questioned and said they saw no suspicious activity. Crime Scene Investigations was called to conduct further investigation.
Library Burglary, Forcible Entry: Between 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, and 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28; 451 Jersey Street
That same morning, a library security employee arrived to find the front door of the Noe Valley Library on Jersey Street forced open. He then notified police. Police determined that the double front doors had been pried open with a tool and that large pieces of wood had been torn from the door. Several wood chips were found on the ground. Police then searched the building and found no one inside, but noticed that several drawers in the library office had been opened and that items from the drawers appeared to be missing.
The security employee did not know whether anything had been stolen, as he did not normally work in the branch. Regular library staff, along with Crime Scene Investigations, were to arrive at 10 a.m. to assess further damage or loss. Police also searched the area for suspects and evidence, but found none.
(The Voice later learned that the library had also been burglarized in October and December 2000, and that no suspects have been identified for any of the three crimes. However, a new security system for the branch was slated to be installed at the end of May, which library officials hoped would deter future burglary attempts.)
Residential Burglary, Forcible Entry: Between 9:20 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17; 100 block of Clipper Street
The two residents of a home on the 100 block of Clipper Street locked all doors and windows before leaving the morning of April 17. Upon one resident's return in the evening, he found several items missing from the bedroom, including seven gold necklaces, two Minolta cameras, and a Swiss Army knife. He also found the rear door of the home wide open. The door was damaged and the lock broken.
Police believe an unknown suspect kicked in the door, entered the house, and stole the items. The two residents spoke to a neighbor across the street who told them that at around noon he saw a suspect, described as a short, stocky male wearing dark clothing and a red baseball cap, walk down the front steps of the burglarized home. Unfortunately, the neighbor said he would be unable to identify the suspect in a lineup.
Police noticed a partial shoeprint on the back door. Crime Scene Investigations was called in to investigate further.
Con Artist Claims to Be Your Neighbor
Trudee Gardner, an employee of the Key Kraft locksmith shop on Church at 28th Street, called the Voice on May 16 to report that a man in his mid-50s to early 60s, approximately 6*2(, 240 pounds, wearing a baseball cap and an ID tag around his neck, has been walking around the Upper Noe area telling residents that he saw a person attempting to break into their homes and that he has chased them off. He also tells neighbors that he lives "just up the block" from them, but, according to Gardner, none of the neighbors "can quite figure out where he lives by the directions he gives."
Gardner says he seems to be targeting people who have recently moved into the area and do not yet know all their neighbors. On the pretense that he is looking to buy various security items, he questions residents about the type of deadbolt locks they have on their doors or what kind of burglar alarms they use. He also asks if they own a dog.
A few hours later, he will ring the person's doorbell and tell them he has locked himself out of his house. In some cases, he has used Gardner's name, saying, "Trudee isn't around," or that she wants "$300 for the job." He then tells them that his wife is at work in San Jose and he needs to borrow $20 for train fare to get the key to the house from his wife. Gardner says he approached at least five neighbors during the first few weeks in May, and that several gave him the train fare.
"He befriends people very easily and is very believable and smooth," says Gardner. She notes that he also came into Key Kraft on Friday, May 11, near closing time and before she had been made aware of his scam. "He asked lots of questions about putting a deadbolt on a gate," she says, and made an appointment with Gardner to come to his home on Monday afternoon, May 14. He didn't give her his address. Instead, he said he'd meet her at the shop and walk with her to his house, but he never showed up.
Gardner filed a police report with Ingleside Police Station and has also posted notices at Key Kraft, Sun Valley Market, Lehr's, and St. Paul's Rectory. "I've since found out that he was using other merchants' names as far down as 30th Street, so I was glad to see I was not the only merchant targeted," she says.
Gardner stresses that residents should not dwell on the con man's physical description. Rather, they should be alert to his modus operandi. "People should not concentrate on catching this one guy. They should just continue to watch out for this kind of scam."
The incident reports for this month's Police Beat were provided to the Voice by Mission Police Officer Lorraine Lombardo, who patrols 24th Street and surrounding areas. Lombardo and Mission Police Captain Ron Roth invite residents to bring their questions about crime and safety to the police-community meeting held at 6 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month at 630 Valencia Street (near 17th). The next meeting is scheduled for June 26.
The Mission Police District includes the northern half of Noe Valley, from 21st Street to Cesar Chavez Street. Residents can contact Mission Station by phone at 558-5400, or send e-mail to email@example.com. To report anonymously on drugs, gangs, or other crime, call the non-traceable Mission Station hotline at 558-5452.
Those living within the Ingleside Police District (south of Cesar Chavez) are invited to call Captain Marsha Ashe at 404-4000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Ashe holds community meetings on the third Thursday of the month (June 21, 7 p.m.) at Ingleside Station, 1 Sergeant John Young Lane, in the Balboa Park complex, off the 2000 block of San Jose Avenue. All residents and merchants are welcome.
No matter what your address, to report a crime in progress, call 911. (Cell phone users should dial 553-8090, since 911 automatically routes the call to the California Highway Patrol.)