Alarmed by rising crimes and the inability of law enforcement to control them, residents of Marina District in San Francisco have decided that “enough is enough” and taken it upon themselves to protect their properties.
“Ours isn’t a safe neighborhood anymore,” Beach Street resident Katie Lyons told KPIX 5. “We have cameras on our property, we have alarms, but what we need is the extra security of having someone watch over our place,” Lyons added.
She said auto and home burglaries in her area have become so brazen and common that she is hiring private security in form of patrol special officer Alan Byard.
Many of her neighbors have also become his clients.
Byard charges a monthly fee of $65 per house and says he patrols the neighborhood in his vehicle between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on the lookout for anything which seems suspicious or out of place.
Patrol Special Officers are overseen by the police commission and they work as private patrol persons.
“It’s a nice place to live but people are afraid of what has been going on there,” Byard said. “They want a safe and peaceful place to raise their kids. In the last one year, 10 of my clients have moved out of the city.”
He also protects business and says that his residential clients have more than doubled since the covid-19 pandemic started, from 70 to 150 in Marina District alone.
‘Car Burglaries Common’
Byard said car burglaries are the biggest issue in the area. “Petty theft and burglaries are also common though I also deal with homeless sleeping on people’s doorsteps,” he said.
According to Lyons, many times she has seen stolen goods, including empty suitcases, dumped outside her house. “Car burglars often break into cars parked outside Palace of Fine Arts which is near my residence,” she said, adding: “At night I don’t walk with a purse. I either drive or take a cab. But it is becoming a problem in the day too.”
When asked if property crime has got worse, Allan Brown, who has lived in Marina for 20 years, said: “Oh absolutely! This place used to be so peaceful and it felt like nothing ever would happen here.”