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Cabbie Chases Auto Thieves From San Francisco Cliff House Parking Lot

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A San Francisco cab driver turned into a crime fighter Monday when he caught and chased two thieves who were breaking into multiple parked cars at the Cliff House restaurant looking over Ocean Beach.

The restaurant is a popular spot for tourists, and therefore a popular spot for auto burglars.

The cabbie, Harold Miller, caught the two suspects in the act. He had just parked his cab when he noticed the glass flying from the parked cars' windows.

"There was something weird about them when they got out of the car, and I just kept watching, and then, 'Smash!' When the first window went, I was like, 'Holy!'" said Miller.

Miller noted that the two suspects were a man and a woman, whom he presumed to be a married couple. The thieves hit five cars in total.

Witnesses in the area called police, but the thieves took their time during the robberies, even moving their car between targets as they grabbed belongings within.

In a matter of a couple minutes, they were able to grab at least one purse and several articles of clothing.

As the thieves left the lot, Miller got in his cab and entered a hot pursuit.

"Oh yeah, I wanted to catch these guys so bad," he said.

He chased the thieves down the Great Highway but didn't catch up with them. He lost the getaway car on Fulton, somewhere after 36th Avenue

"He must've been doing 104 [miles per hour]," estimated Miller. He said that the thieves seemed "carefree" as they were robbing the cars.

The parking lots along Ocean Beach have been a rich hunting ground for auto burglars during San Francisco's unprecedented wave of such crimes in recent years.

The nearby Beach Chalet parking lot is often covered with glass, and the Cliff House staff thinks the couple that hit late Monday also targeted the same parking area earlier in the day.

Staff said that the restaurant does everything it can to warn people who park there not to become the next auto burglary victims.

They also mentioned that the same thieves responsible for this incident have come to their lot before to take down signs warning people not to leave valuables in their cars.

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