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Car Break-Ins On The Rise In SF SoMa; 'This Is The Worst Neighborhood I've Ever Seen'

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Crime is on the rise in San Francisco, according to the police department, especially property crimes.

Ground zero for the big jump in auto break-ins is the hip South Of Market neighborhood, where the building boom has come with a crime spike.

"A lot more people working in the South of Market area. So there are a lot more cars," said Albie Esparza of SFPD.

Neighbors have taken to sharing images of the break-ins on Twitter and Facebook.

"This is the worst neighborhood I've ever seen," said Robert O'Rorke.

Robberies and car break-ins have seen the largest increases in the first four months of the year, at 30 and 38 percent, according to published reports.

"It's an easy way to turn over the product and make a quick buck or two," said Esparza.

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Major violent crimes in general were up 19 percent compared to last year while property crimes were up 16 percent, according to a police report.

Prosecutors say getting convictions on those crimes can be tough.

"You really have to be able to prove the case," said Alex Bastian of the District Attorney's Office. "As in someone saw the case, or circumstantial evidence where someone has broken into a car and still has glass on them."

Police also point to a new voter-approved change in state law that makes possession of stolen goods under $950 a misdemeanor.

"Which is nothing more than a citation," says Esparza.

Earlier this year the police department said the city's overall crime rate decreased in 2014 compared to 2013.

However, between 2012 and 2013, San Francisco saw a more than 20 percent rise in both property crime and violent crime, even as California as a whole and other large cities in the state - including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Jose and San Diego – saw crime rates improve, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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In a November 2014 interview with the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said he attributed the city's increasing crime rate to income disparity, fueled by the emergence of San Francisco's tech industry.

"In San Francisco, you definitely have this tale of two cities. You have a lot of very rich people. The top 5% have a median income of $350,000. And then you have 23% of the population at poverty levels," Adachi told the L.A. Times. "When you have income disparities like that, you're going to see crime rates that may reflect that. "

The South of Market and Financial Districts have had the biggest increases in robberies and car break-ins this year, according to police, even as other statistics show a recent decline in smartphone thefts and robberies attributed to implementation of kill-switch technology.

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