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Burglary Suspect Remains Hidden On San Francisco's Telegraph Hill Cliff

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) -- San Francisco police have scaled back efforts to find a burglary suspect who has been hiding in brush atop a 200-foot cliff for more than 18 hours.

Cmdr. Richard Corriea said that the standoff at Telegraph Hill is now a rescue mission and only a limited number of officers will remain at the scene.

The standoff began after a home burglary was reported shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Lombard Street just north of Coit Tower, Officer Albie Esparza said.

Officers had earlier set up a perimeter in the area and brought in a ladder truck that could serve as an observation post.

"The police department is here to help this fellow, whoever he is, off the hillside if he needs it," said Corriea. "He may well get down on his own, and we're not going to do anything to create more risk for him. He's created quite a bit of risk himself, and we have a hand out for him should he need it."

KCBS' Bob Melrose Reports:

The unidentified man scrambled up the hill around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday after allegedly stealing a ring from a woman's Kearny Street apartment and being chased by the building manager.

He has since been spotted going up and down the cliff. According to Corriea, he told the city's hostage negotiator he wants to be left alone.

Hostage negotiators with the Police Department were able to contact the suspect at some point during the evening and tried to get him to come out, but he was unwilling, Esparza said.

Esparza said that around 2 a.m., the suspect asked police to turn off the floodlights. They said no, he said.

He was described only as a white male wearing a hooded sweatshirt, Esparza said. Police do not believe he is hurt.

Hostage negotiators plan to return to the site later Wednesday to try again to convince the suspect to come out, Esparza said.

Jon Golinger, president of the neighborhood group Telegraph Hill Dwellers, said he has heard of seven or eight residential burglaries in the neighborhood in the past few months, including some that have occurred while the residents were home.

"I don't know if it's the same burglar, but if it is, he's been very bold," Golinger said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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