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San Francisco Marina District Residents Fed Up With Brazen Crime Spree Hire Private Security

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Fed up with brazen property crimes, residents in San Francisco's Marina District are taking matters into their own hands to protect themselves.

"We don't feel safe in our neighborhood," said Beach Street resident Katie Lyons. "And we have an alarm, we have cameras on our property, but we want the extra security of having someone have eyes on our place."

She said home and auto burglaries in her neighborhood have gotten so out of hand, she is now paying for security services from patrol special officer Alan Byard.

Several of her neighbors have also recently become clients. Byard said he makes several rounds in his vehicle from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. looking for anything out of place or suspicious. He charges a monthly $65 per residence.

"It's a nice area down here, people are afraid of what's been going on," said Byard. "They want a safe place to raise their kids. In the last year, I've had 10 of my clients move out of the city."

Byard, who also patrols businesses, says his residential clients have more than doubled since the pandemic began, from 70 to 150 in the Marina alone.

He said the area's biggest problem is car burglaries. He often deals with homeless people sleeping on residents' doorsteps. Byard said petty theft and burglaries are also common.

Patrol Special Officers work as private patrol persons overseen by the police commission.

Lyons said it is not uncommon to find stolen property including empty luggage dumped right outside her home. Car burglars commonly break into vehicles parked by the Palace of Fine Arts nearby.

"Especially at night, I don't walk with a purse, I'll drive, or I'll take an Uber, and it's beginning to become a daytime problem too," added Lyons.

On Friday, popular Australian singer Clinton Kane was the victim of a brazen armed robbery in nearby Cow Hollow. Thieves made off with more than $30,000 worth of camera equipment.

Several videos posted to social media show that theft only takes a few seconds, and witnesses or drivers passing by don't seem to deter burglars day or night.

Surveillance video from Trisha Bantigue shows a car break-in on Hawthorne and Howard Streets in SoMa last month. She said she made sure to leave nothing inside her brand new car and was still not immune.

On Friday, dash cam video caught repeated smash and grabs in Fisherman's Wharf at Beach Street and Columbus Avenue. A waiting black Audi followed closely, before the suspect eventually hopped in.

Allan Brown, a Marina resident, has lived in the area for 20 years. When asked if property crime has gotten worse:

"Oh absolutely, absolutely. This place used to be - nothing would ever happen here," he said.

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