SFDA Deploys Digital Auto Burglary Tip Line and Announces Plans for an Auto Burglary Taskforce


News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón

February 21, 2018
Twitter: @GeorgeGascon
ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931                   |              MAX SZABO (415) 553-9089 


SAN FRANCISCO – Today, District Attorney George Gascón launched a digital tip line for victims and witnesses of auto burglaries.  The tip line will enable individuals to send evidence to the SFDA’s Crime Strategies Unit (CSU) which will be assessed and analyzed in order to identify and tie repeat offenders to multiple crimes.  In order to support the evidence yielded from the tip line, subsequent analysis, investigation and prosecution, the District Attorney’s Office also announced that it will be seeking funding this budget cycle for an auto burglary taskforce.  Finally, SFDA is republishing its private camera registry where citizens can register their security devices in order to assist law enforcement with investigations post-incident. 

“We know that a small percentage of individuals are responsible for the vast majority of auto burglaries in San Francisco,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “I created a Crime Strategies Unit within the District Attorney’s Office almost three years ago to go after the individuals who were responsible for an outsized portion of crime in our community, and it has successfully netted hundreds of major crime drivers in San Francisco and throughout the region.  We’re going to apply this same analytical and data intensive approach to identify the individuals that are responsible for the wave of auto burglaries and to hold them accountable in a manner that is commensurate with the impact they’ve had on our communities.” 

SFDA’s Crime Strategies Unit (CSU) is a cutting-edge entity that works to connect the dots between cases currently under review and other crimes that have similarities.  By reviewing pictures, video, suspect identifying information, suspect vehicle information and more, CSU has the ability to identify individuals that are driving the city’s auto burglary challenge and tie them to multiple cases to ensure they face consequences that reflect the scope of the impact they’ve had on our community.  In recent years, CSU’s approach has successfully resulted in major cases such as Operation Cold Day, which netted the most arrests in one day in ATF history.  It also led to dozens of defendants indicted in an organized retail theft conspiracy that spanned the United States. 

According to the civil grand jury, criminal street gangs are behind 70 to 80 percent of all auto burglary incidents in San Francisco.  These individuals often work in teams with the crimes taking just seconds, which makes catching an auto burglar in the act very difficult for police.  For these reasons, post-incident investigation is essential in order to apprehend auto burglars and hold them accountable for the crimes they’ve committed. 

In order to expand the amount of data that CSU has at their disposal for analysis and subsequent investigation – and which can ultimately be used in a prosecution – SFDA has created a digital tip line.  The public can access the tip line atsfdistrictattorney.org/auto-burglary-tipline.  There, members of the public can get information about how to submit tips related to suspects, suspect vehicles, photos, videos and more.  If possible, it is preferential that people use our website since this data can be more quickly accessed by our analysts.  However, for individuals that do not have access to a computer they can also call SFDA’s auto burglary hotline at 415-553-7337.  When evidence is unable to be transmitted via the web, District Attorney Investigators will come out to the community to gather evidence for analysis. 

Please note, if a crime is in progress or someone is in danger the public should always call 911. 

The digital tip line is not a replacement for filing a police report.  However, the tip line and web portal will be particularly valuable for residents or small business owners who have a camera and may have evidence of a crime but don’t know who the victim is, and as a result may not have an incident report number.  SFDA will be working with neighborhood and business organizations to ensure the public is aware of the digital tip line and that people will submit as much evidence as possible.  Older photos and videos – even dating back several years – are welcomed and encouraged. 

In order to support the evidence yielded from the tip line, subsequent analysis, investigation and prosecution, SFDA is requesting the city support an Auto Burglary Task Force to expand and execute goals stemming from the Crime Strategies Unit.  The additional analyst, investigator, paralegal and prosecutors will focus on serial offenders identified in open cases as well as probation violations, reviewing jail calls, identifying suspect vehicles and their origin, possible additional offenders, and an enhanced focus on fencing activity in the Bay Area.  This Task Force will enable consistent, persistent, and aggressive prosecution for the most ubiquitous property crime plaguing San Francisco today.

Finally, SFDA would like to request the support of the community by registering their private cameras athttp://sfdistrictattorney.org/register-your-cam.  By providing tips, registering their cameras, and keeping property out of their vehicles, the public can play an integral role in reducing car break-ins as SFDA takes steps to apprehend the most prolific auto burglars.  Ultimately, by working together with police and the public, SFDA is confident that we can make significant progress to tackle San Francisco’s auto burglary challenge in the year ahead.