San Francisco magnificence salon proprietor worries about future after 4 burglaries in a 12 months

SAN FRANCISCO — Small businesses in San Francisco have faced repeated vandalism and break-ins, so much so that merchants are questioning the feasibility of staying in the city.

Josie Li, owner of La Boutique salon on Polk Street, said she was hit by burglars four times in the past year. She estimates the losses and repairs at over $40,000.

She said her insurance claims are so common that she worries her insurance carrier might start to question if they’re legitimate.

Li said every time thieves took away electronics, cash and beauty products. Her mailbox was also broken into repeatedly.

“It was shocking, but also not only traumatic, but simply surprising in one of the largest and most expensive cities that you would think could sustain business,” Li said.

In January, the beauty salon’s cell phone was stolen. Tracking technology showed it was about half a mile away near Van Ness and Geary.

“By the time the police arrived, it had been a few hours since I discovered the incident and by that time the phone was already off,” she said.

Like many small business owners in San Francisco, Li struggles to get people to come through the doors.

She opened this space a year ago after closing her shop for 18 months during the pandemic.

SFPD crime data shows burglaries this year in the Northern District, which includes Polk Gulch, are up more than 30% compared to the same period last year.

“It’s almost a national joke for our city at this point and it’s like we’re trying to bring it up, we’re making this place as vibrant as possible,” Li said worry about what is dangerous.”

This month Mayor London Breed introduced an additional $27 million budget to ensure continued police presence and expand hiring of community ambassadors in business areas.

SFPD has a staff shortage of 541 officers.

“I think the police on an individual level, when I see them they’re very sympathetic and then they say – they’re trying to help, they’re doing their job and they’re filing the report and everything, but I think we’ve defamed them Police so much that we don’t have enough police now,” Li said.

Li is considering moving her business elsewhere, but starting over is also costly. She said it took her a year to build a customer base at her new location.

She added that the Community Benefit District is helping her with funds for a security system. She also said there is a community patrol on Polk Street that begins at 5 a.m. The burglaries usually happen at night.

SF District Attorney Communications Director Randy Quezada said in a statement to KPIX 5:

The District Attorney is focused on improving public safety, restoring accountability, and seeking justice. To improve processes and outcomes in cases like Le Café Du Soleil, District Attorney Jenkins created a Major Crimes Team within the General Felonies Division to focus on more serious and complex crimes, such as some armed robberies and attempted murder cases that are time consuming and more complicated. With the establishment of this new team, General Felonies’ prosecutors will be able to better handle property crime and other crime cases as they come.

Betty Ju

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