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Frustrated San Francisco homeowner does own detective work following string of Visitacion Valley burglaries

VIDEO: After a string of robberies in Visitation Valley, victim tries to crack the case
After a string of burglaries in SF Visitacion Valley, victim tries to crack the case 02:41

SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Francisco homeowner frustrated by police inaction and tired of being a crime victim is trying to crack his own burglary case and making some progress. 

Victor, who declined to share his last name, shared surveillance video that shows a man walking across the front of his Visitacion Valley home around 6 a.m. on October 2. The suspect leaves after unsuccessfully breaking into a storage room underneath the stairs. 

But moments later, after the homeowner suspects the man climbed the fence between the neighbor's home, the burglar jumps into his backyard on Campbell Avenue. 

Victor said the suspect likely used a torch to melt the hinges off a plastic shed. He also opened the nearby laundry room.

Video shows the thief making multiple trips over the next 45 minutes to load stolen tools and whatever he can grab into a waiting car. 

At one point, the suspect even grabs the camera and tosses it in the laundry room. 

That morning, Victor reported the crime to police. He believes he recognizes the suspect from his video roaming his neighborhood shortly after the burglary, and multiple times since. He even followed him to a nearby encampment where he says he's witnessed cars drive by with trunks full of tools. 

"I've reported it from those times at least four or five, only for them to say there's really not much that can be done," said Victor of SFPD. "Or they just show up too late for them to do anything."

Victor said he also saw what looked like the burglar with the getaway car in the area. But by the time police arrived, the suspect was gone. The car was eventually towed. 

This week Victor decided to do his own detective work. On Monday, he went to the Mission District, where it's common to see several street vendors selling what look like stolen goods. 

Sure enough, he found some of his stolen property being sold on the street. The vendor told him he bought it from another vendor.

Victor and Joanna are new homeowners, and since the burglary, they've added even more cameras and a lock and chain at the back entrance. 

"If you're impoverished sometimes you have to do things to survive, but to me, this doesn't seem like a crime of survival," he said. "I feel like it's a part of the larger racket that's happening in the city."

"We have our own laundry here in the back as you can see so I even asked him do you think it's okay for me to do laundry or should I wait for you to come home," said Joanna. "So I'm even scared to do something as simple as my own chores because I'm scared that somebody could be in the backyard."

Supervisor Shaman Walton's office recently responded to Victor's request for better street lighting on a section of San Bruno Avenue. It will take the SFPUC 6 weeks to do a lighting assessment. 

"We have an election coming up pretty soon," said Victor, who hopes citizens vote for leaders who will improve public safety. "Start pressing our candidates about what they're going to do about these things." 

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