Saturday, July 15, 2023

San Francisco Entrepreneur Employs Mock Firearm and Ski Mask to Deter Local Thieves

San Francisco witnessed over 20,000 car thefts in the previous year. Luz Pena, a journalist from ABC7 News, had an exchange with a local resident who has decided to take a stand and defend his community.

A resident of San Francisco for more than two decades, he is now recognized by his nickname "Boots" rather than his legal name. "People know me as Boots. I tend to be more active outdoors," he stated.

To maintain his anonymity, Boots dons a ski mask and patrols his Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood armed with an imitation firearm intended to deter thieves from breaking into cars. 

"We're becoming a familiar sight to the criminals. It's not any organized group, just responsible residents," Boots commented. He sees every day he deters crime as a minor triumph, remarking, "You drive them away from one corner, you drive them away from this street."

His increasing frustration with the rampant car break-ins, many of which he's recorded over the years, led him to take action. He believes he's preserving the neighborhood he calls home and where he also runs a business.

"The tourists won't continue to visit here. This impacts people who have resided here their whole lives, and it's unfair," Boots lamented.

Based on the incident data provided by the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), the city sees an average of 67 car thefts every day. Employees of Eight AM, a brunch venue on Columbus Avenue, witness this crime daily. 

"They just leave all their belongings in there and in less than 5 seconds, the thieves grab everything and disappear," commented Kenny Nguyen, an Eight AM employee. His sentiments echo the collective frustration felt by many in the community.

"I feel helpless too. You can't really do anything," added Nguyen.

While Boots was out one Wednesday with the hope of preventing car thefts, he was apprehended by the SFPD for displaying an imitation firearm, a minor offense. He could face charges as a result.

"Although we empathize with everyone's frustration, including our own officers, we don't encourage such actions. Yes, there is an alarming number of reports about car burglaries, but there is an existing system to handle these issues," stated SFPD Officer Robert Rueca. 

Despite the SFPD acknowledging their lack of sufficient staff, Boots perceived his arrest as another small victory, stating, "No one's car was being broken into while the police were around for that half an hour."

A couple from New York whom we encountered made an unexpected statement.

Luz Pena inquired: "I notice your luggage in the back."

Victoria Warren responded: "Yes. I guess we were fortunate that nothing happened."

Boots speculated that thieves might be taking notice of his efforts. "There is some protection here," he added.

Despite acknowledging their inability to respond to every car break-in due to a shortage of 570 officers, the SFPD stated that it prevents them from dedicating officers specifically to these types of crimes.

Being fully aware of the risks, Boots is contemplating moving away from San Francisco.

"Chances are I'll end up shot or run over. If I continue to stay here, I could end up dead," Boots predicted.

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