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Fox News
Fox News
22 Apr 2023


A burnt-out building in San Francisco was allegedly ransacked by thieves twice in less than a week, victims of the fire said.

One person was critically injured and 20 others were displaced after Wednesday's two-alarm fire, the San Francisco Fire Department said, and criminals have compounded the victims' trauma. 

"I didn't even think about something worse that could happen. ... It just added to everything," a resident named Shivani told ABC 7. "They took more of my valuables, maybe about $10,000 and a lot more stuff."

A neighbor, Cory Virok, told the news outlet he's "personally chased off a bunch (of suspects). One was last night with a crowbar."

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San Francisco fire theft

A building in San Francisco that caught fire April 18, 2023, and displaced more than 20 people has been burglarized twice in less than a week (GoFundMe)

Shivani, who didn't give the news outlet her last name, said in a GoFundMe page that many of the residents "have been left struggling to find alternative accommodations and replace their lost items."

"We believe that everyone deserves a safe and secure place to live, and that no tenant should have to face the burden of a fire and robbery caused by circumstances beyond their control," she wrote. 

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Residents of the burnt-out building in Russian Hill, a ritzy area and popular tourist destination, told ABC 7 they've experienced package thefts and break-ins in the past, but these crimes after a fire are keeping them up at night.

"I haven't gotten any sleep since. None," Debbie Thompson told ABC 7. "I have bloodshot eyes. I'm living in fear. I'm living in fear of people getting into the unit all day long."

Crime in general has surged all over San Francisco and the Bay Area as police departments contend with staffing shortages. 

In San Francisco, the surge in crime over the past couple of years has been accompanied by a severe staffing shortage in the police department, where the force was short roughly 800 officers heading into 2023.

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Earlier this year, the understaffed department took 15 hours to respond to a burglary call.

Residents and business owners turned to artificial intelligence to combat burglaries and robberies, with one security company telling Fox News Digital in an interview last week that its sales of AI-based surveillance have been through the roof.

Capt. Jonathan Baxter of the San Francisco Fire Department told ABC 7 the department doesn't have concrete numbers, but it is receiving more reports of theft.  

"This is why it's so important for property owners and landlords listen to the advice that we give to them after every fire in San Francisco on the importance of securing the building," Baxter told the local news outlet. 

Chris Eberhart is a crime and US news journalist for Fox News Digital. Email tips to chris.eberhart@fox.com or on twitter @ChrisEberhart48