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Thieves Using Drills, Makeshift Tools To Break Into Garages Of Homes In Pacific Heights

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Neighbors in one of San Francisco's most exclusive neighborhoods say they're being targeted by would-be thieves almost every night.

Pacific Heights resident Paul Banas says would-be burglars have hit his garage eight times - twice in the last three weeks.

Most recently, someone tried to break in by prying open a vent on the garage.

"They drill a hole, in the middle of the night, when everybody is sleeping and the street is quiet. They come with a big drill and sometimes I actually heard it in the middle of the night," said Banas.

He showed us examples of some of the makeshift tools he says crooks often leave behind. Banas said they use them hoping to grab onto the emergency release cords to get inside the garages.

Banas have lived in his Vallejo Street home for more than a decade.

"We didn't use to use our alarm ever, except when we'd go on extended vacations. We wouldn't even think of that, and I think that's increased. We have a gate on the front of our house, and we didn't even lock that," he said.

He recently extended his alarm system to his detached garage, and added metal spikes to the top of the gate.

"Like a lot of residents, we're worried about what happens next. We think that the crime has gone from the tourists who were in town when there were a lot of smash-and-grabs, and when the tourists disappeared over the pandemic then they had to turn somewhere else and now they're going into these garages," he said.

Neighbor Preston Raisin's garage was hit over the weekend.

"So we've had two attempted break-ins, one actual break-in," he said. "Twice they drilled holes, tried to pull the safety latch, pull the garage door up. So we have latches inside so they're not able to do that. My wife's pediatric doctor bag was stolen because they came through the side door, which is pretty brazen because that means they had to hop walls to get around our gate."

Raisin said overall, he feels safe in Pacific Heights, where has lived for 30 years.

"I mean that's the price to pay living in the city," he said.

Other residents shared video with KPIX 5 of people appearing to case their property. One appears to show a man wandering around in the middle of the night in September.

"It's unsettling to come out in the morning or come out every morning - really is basically what it's turned into - you come out every morning and the first thing I do, is I look at the garage, have they hit us again?" said Banas.

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