San Francisco’s historic and beautiful Marina District has not been insulated from the virtually unchecked crime spinning out of control throughout the city. Feeling unsafe in their neighborhoods, residents of the district are now turning to privately funded and administered security forces for patrol and protection services on their streets.
Resident Kate Lyons told a reporter with KPIX that area residents don’t feel safe, even though they have alarms and cameras on their property, adding that they want the “extra security of having someone” keep an eye on their place. She said that she doesn’t walk in her neighborhood with a purse, and especially at night, she elects to drive or ride rather than walk at all.
She has joined a group of 150 neighbors in the district to hire Alan Byard, a special patrol officer who patrols the area where car break-ins and home burglaries are surging. Byard said the district is an excellent area where people have become “afraid of what’s been going on.” He said that people want a safe place for their families and that ten of his clients have moved away in the last year.
Byard is one of a group of private patrolmen regulated and overseen by the city police commission. He works from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on patrol on the district’s streets, looking out for suspicious activity. The most common criminal problem he encounters currently is car burglaries, although he has also dealt with petty theft and trespassing by the homeless on clients’ property.
The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that there has been an increase of 753 percent in car burglaries in the city’s Central District in the twelve months ending May 2021. That district includes many of the top tourist sites in the city.
Of course, residents and visitors can virtually not defend themselves, as weapons of almost any kind are tightly regulated. As police resources are stretched thin, and prosecutors refuse to prosecute many types of crime in the city, Mayor London Breed and other city officials caution people to hide their belongings out of sight inside vehicles and park in staffed lots as much as possible.