After a number of thefts, San Francisco contractor takes on discovering stolen instruments

SAN FRANCISCO – From car break-ins to shoplifting, much has been said about property crime in San Francisco. For one set of victims, theft doesn’t just come with a cost, it’s making it difficult to work.

“Remodel,” contractor Dan McCann explained as he walked through a home under renovation in Oakland. “Total interior. Addition, front and back.”

From full remodels in the Oakland Hills, to foundation replacements in San Francisco.

“One section at a time,” he said of another project in Haight-Ashbury. “So the house doesn’t fall down.”

McCann is a city native who built his contracting business from scratch, now employing teams of workers on various sites. For all of the complexities that come with running jobs around the bay, his work in San Francisco has presented one particular challenge.


Contractor Dan McCann works on a home in San Francisco. Following multiple thefts, McCann has taken on the task of finding his stolen tools.


“We usually bring the tools home, but one day we left everything here,” McCann told KPIX 5. “Maybe somebody was staking us out. They broke the lock off, let themselves in. Three jackhammers, a concrete saw. A bunch of smaller items. It came out to about $14,000 worth of equipment.”

“The ladder isn’t on it, no pipe racks,” plumber Tony Campos said of his work van.

Campos is another victim, even though he tries to keep his van as inconspicuous as possible.

Had a couple jobs like Dan’s where we had all of our equipment, all of our plumbing gear, all of our tools stolen,” Campos said of his experience with thieves. “I’ve had one of my cars broken into, in my garage, everything taken from that.”

“This is the third time I’ve been hit pretty big,” McCann added.

The third time convinced him to take on another job, tracking down his stolen property, and he said it wasn’t that hard to find: A resale website and a seller who may not be the thief, but has thousands of items for sale.

“This is the guy who tried to sell me my stuff back,” McCann said, pointing to an online profile. “You can see here, 2,600 items sold on OfferUp. So I met up with him.”

Zeroing in on the saw he recognized, McCann set up a parking lot meeting in which he confronted the seller. They demanded proof of a serial number, which he produced the following day.

“Gave him the serial number the next day,” McCann said. “He told me I made a fake receipt and he wouldn’t meet up with me. Told me to call the cops and have them come deal with it. The cops want me to find him again before they do anything about it. So that what a frustrating thing.”

Police say they cannot comment, as they now have several ongoing investigations into the fencing of stolen property. They encourage everyone to record serial numbers, and put distinct markings on tools in case they do go up for sale. This is a frequent, and costly problem.

“Not only in money and what those tools cost us, but in time,” Campos said of his experiences.

“Missing a day at work, or missing a couple days of work because we have no tools could be a big problem for most of my workers,” McCann said for his crew.

Not one to quit on a job, McCann now has a private investigator working to build a case that he hopes to pass on to police. A mission borne out of frustration.

“These burglaries are devastating to contractors, like myself,” McCann said. “These criminals have made a business off of stealing the livelihood of honest people. Hopefully we can start catching these guys.”

Wilson Walker


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