Noe Valley Voice November 2010

Shop Owner ‘Takes Back the Night’ After Burglary

By Corrie M. Anders

The case of the People v. Mark Kelley, Superior Court file #10026419, is a fairly typical one in the daily occurrence of crime in San Francisco.

But it was anything but a routine matter for Marcy Israel, co-owner of Wink SF, a 24th Street boutique that is chock full of everything from fun gifts to jewelry to bath and kitchen goods.

On a fateful night last summer, Israel’s fashionable shop was the target of a burglar who ripped off thousands of dollars in merchandise.

At 12:25 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24, he smashed open the glass of the shop’s front door, at 4107 24th Street near Castro Street.

The burglar knew what to look for in the crowded store. He disregarded costume trinkets and took a tray of expensive goods that included name-brand watches and special pieces of jewelry. But he also left blood on a glass display case and fingerprints on the inside of the case.

“He wasn’t that bright,” Israel said. “If he had left fingerprints on the outside of the case, he could have been just a customer. He also left DNA.”

A motorist observed the break-in and notified police, with two officers arriving within six minutes, Israel said. “We have to be thankful that person took the trouble to report it,” she said.

The fingerprints matched those of Kelley, 46, a Mission District resident whom the San Francisco District Attorney’s office said had prior arrests for burglary and other offenses. Police arrested Kelley on Sept. 3.

Assistant District Attorney Seth Steward, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, said Kelley later pled guilty to felony grand theft of personal property. Another charge of second-degree burglary was dismissed in exchange for the guilty plea.

Restitution Sought

Israel was relieved at the news, but far from satisfied. In September, she set off on a one-person campaign to make sure that Kelley didn’t end up with “a slap on the hand.” She especially wanted compensation for her losses.

Israel pestered the DA’s office to pursue a meaningful sentence. She sent the same request to Supervisor Bevan Dufty’s office.

In her six years on 24th Street, Israel said, victimized merchants have often displayed a laissez-faire attitude towards criminals. “I think it’s so sad that we as merchants get broken into, and we see it as a matter of course,” she said.

Since “burglary seems to affect most stores in Noe Valley,” Israel also sent an email petition to local merchants that urged them to voice their sentencing concerns to the court.

“I am asking that since they actually caught someone, that [prosecutors] take this seriously,” Israel wrote. “We don’t want continued break-ins.

“I am also requesting they require restitution. It seems in the sentencing, they have forgotten there is even a victim, and I feel the robber should be held accountable for the loss he caused me,” she said.

A Good Outcome

In the end, it is clear Israel’s efforts had an impact.

Kelley was sentenced Oct. 15 to three years probation, with credit for 19 days of jail time already served. He must submit to a search at any time, either at home or in a vehicle. In addition, the judge ordered him to stay at least 150 yards from Israel’s store.

Steward said the District Attorney’s office indeed took the case seriously. “It’s a felony case and it’s a felony conviction,” Steward said. “And he’s going to do three years probation and he has to stay away from that location.”

Because Israel does not know what Kelley looks like, the DA is taking one other step to put the shopkeeper “at ease,” Steward said.

“We’re sending her a mug shot” so she’ll be able to recognize Kelley if he comes near her store. The Police Department and the DA’s office wants to “make sure this guy stays out of the area and is no longer a concern to her,” Steward said.

In addition, Kelley will return to court Nov. 24 for a restitution hearing. At that time, a judge will determine the amount of compensation due the shop owner.

Israel said she believes her due diligence has paid off. “I think that given everything, it is a good outcome,” she said.