Burglars Target Star of India on Geary Street
Neighboring merchants speak out for better police protections
•••••••••• November 7, 2023 ••••••••••
With the burglary of Star India restaurant on Geary Boulevard, more merchants and business owners of the Westside are speaking out about the increase of petty theft and vandalism impacting the quality of life.
As Star India manager Sukh Kaur told the press on October 13th, "We had three break-ins within just a month, she said, you know?"
"September 15th, at 5:30 am, the second break-in was October 5th around the same time," said Kaur. "A third break-in, was on October 9th at 5:30 am. The person was able to come inside the restaurant and got ahold of a few things; got ahold of cash."
Hamburger Haven owner, Reezblah Falahati talked with the Westside Observer, saying. "It's mostly petty cash, iPads, credit card payment devices and stuff like that. But it's still a crime and it impacts us," Falahati exclaimed.
It cost Star India nearly $5,000 to replace the glass doors and to put new bars up.
My business got hit three times this past year,“ said Heller. ”Richmond Station is short-staffed and the last time my business got hit by a burglar, there was only one patrol car in the area to respond.”
David Heller of the Greater Geary Blvd Merchants Association pointed to these costs of doing business that have become the norm. "Geary, Clement, Balboa, California Streets, these have all become 'gated-communities' in a manner of speaking, because most storefronts have gates and corrugated roll-up covers over their doors and windows."
"My business got hit three times this past year," said Heller. "Richmond Station is short-staffed and the last time my business got hit by a burglar, there was only one patrol car in the area to respond."
Heller believes that when dealing with all the bureaucracy within the various agencies, departments, etc., Police officers on patrol or on the beat "have their hands tied, if it isn't petty-theft, then it's drug-dealing and homelessness, that our police must deal with."
Falahati is frustrated, "Hamburger Haven here on Clement got broken into on September 20th." Then, only two days later, on September 22nd, another business on Clement Street got broken into." Falahati keeps in contact with fellow merchants in the neighborhood via daily group e-mails. He feels that criminals are targeting Clement Street and the Westside.
As someone who grew up "out in the avenues," Falahati recalls the Richmond, Sunset, and Parkside Districts as places where everyday people with families could enjoy a life that was stable, reliable and relatively peaceful.
But now, “especially since COVID-19, he said, there’s been a decline in the quality of public services provided and offered, especially for merchants and small businesses in The City.”
“It’s as if we have no voice,” said Falahati. “We are vulnerable, yet local merchants and businesses are still the backbone of the neighborhoods.”
San Francisco Police Department Capt. Chris Canning at Richmond Station reassured Falahati in response, "While we will endeavor to ensure officers will be on Clement from 3 am to 5 am on Friday, they are obligated to respond to prioritized calls for service and conduct follow-up investigations related to responses to previous calls for service.“
Based upon his experience with burglaries at his place of business on Geary Blvd, Heller thinks — besides all the bureaucracy within the City — "it's also 'Prop 47' that ballot initiative that got passed in 2014, robbery and theft of less than $950 is treated as a misdemeanor offense." He believes that in dealing with all the bureaucracy, police on patrol and on the beat in the neighborhoods are stretched and stressed. He reiterated. "Their hands are tied, figuratively speaking."
The leniency, as well as the failure to enforce the law, is all about "a failure of leadership at City Hall." This decline in San Francisco, according to Heller, "actually began when Mayor Ed Lee unexpectedly died while in office and the one who stepped in as acting mayor, has really been an 'Accidental Mayor' - nothing in terms of effective administration from City Hall under Mayor London Breed has been cohesive since then."
Reaching out to Richmond District/Westside Supervisor Connie Chan for comment, she noted. “I'm working to bring our merchants and law enforcement together so our businesses know about resources available to them.”
Adding further, the Supervisor said. "My office has helped connect Star India Restaurant (and others) to support services and funding for victims."
Mentioning a course of action, Supervisor Chan said. "Last month I convened a round table meeting with our local merchant associations and Richmond District Police Station to develop strategies to prevent these crimes.
“We will continue to convene this group, she said, and bring in other city departments, and in the meantime, please support our local restaurants and businesses in the Richmond.”
To learn more about Star of India at 3721 Geary or order online at website.
Jonathan Farrell is a local reporter.
November 7, 2023