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Haight Street business owner speaks out about car break-ins still plaguing San Francisco

Car break-Ins continue to plague San Francisco
Car break-Ins continue to plague San Francisco 04:06

SAN FRANCISCO -- Car break-ins are a problem all over San Francisco, but the crime seems to be committed with clockwork regularity on famous Haight Street. 

Local business owners and residents are growing increasingly frustrated with the ongoing issue, which not only poses a significant security threat, but is also affecting the vibrancy of the iconic neighborhood.

As the manager of the John Fluevog Shoes store located on Haight Street, Denny Garbuio has been a witness to these recurring break-ins for years. He described the modus operandi of the thieves.

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"We all see them. Cars would come around the corner, and it's quick. They got it down to a science," he said. "It's fast. You don't even know it's happening until it's already over."

Garbuio, who has managed the shoe store since 1997, expressed his growing frustration with the common crime. 

"For us, this is just so frustrating, because this has been going on for so many years. And I don't see any changes happening," he lamented.

His frustration led him to take action. Garbuio penned a letter that was sent to a public hearing held Thursday that addressed strategies to combat San Francisco's car break-in problem organized by Supervisor Dean Preston

During the hearing, Supervisor Preston acknowledged the gravity of the issue. 

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"The city has made no noticeable progress. It doesn't mean there's no progress, but you don't see the results in terms of the reduction of car break-ins," Preston explained.

Garbuio emphasized that the problem isn't confined to individuals. Local businesses in targeted neighborhoods are also feeling the impact. 

"People are like, 'Damned if you do and damned if you don't.' If you're carrying a bunch of bags, you become a target. If you put your stuff in the trunk, you could possibly get broken into," he said. "So honestly, for a lot of people, it's like, 'You know what, it's easier to just shop online."

Originally from Canada but deeply devoted to San Francisco, Garbuio admitted that he has contemplated leaving the city many times due to the problem. However, his love for San Francisco and its beauty -- as exemplified by places like Golden Gate Park -- keep him hopeful, even in the face of persistent frustrations.

For now, Garbuio remains committed to his work, selling shoes to customers while cautioning them about the challenges they might encounter in the neighborhood. He clings to hope that San Francisco will once again find its way and address the persistent car break-in problem that has plagued Haight Street for far too long.

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