With Tourism Comes Revenue — and Thefts

By Julian Moncaleano  

     San Francisco’s Chinatown is an established neighborhood for drawing large crowds of tourists—as well as a large number of thefts. This is nothing new to Chinatown residents and business owners.

     For business owners, the large crowds can pose problems. Owners and employees usually monitor every customer that steps foot into the stores, which are typically modest in size.

     Magnet World, a busy store on Grant Avenue, always seems to have merchandise missing from its shelves, according to employee Benito Chavez.

     “People love magnets, and people love to steal them,” Chavez said. “Although it might not seem like much, it adds up over time. We have the ability to make up for some of the lost merchandise. But for some stores that have jewelry, electronics or art, it becomes a hefty loss when things disappear.”  

     Chinatown offers great bargains on jewelry, whether it’s precious gems or gold karats. Among businesses on Grant Avenue, jewelry stores have become extremely cautious when it comes to protecting their merchandise.

     “There was a robbery over the summer,” said Christina Wong, a jeweler at A&K Jewelry. “Since then, we decided to keep everything with high value behind the window display.”

     With the jewelry heist transpiring in June, local residents asked police to send more patrol officers on foot—a request that has been fulfilled.

     San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, despite holding the position only since January, noticed an unusual amount of crime occurring over the summer.

     According to the San Francisco Examiner, 186 car break-ins occurred in the police department’s Central District—which includes Chinatown—during the first two weeks of June. The district also had 16 burglaries and 15 robberies reported during that period.

     At Chinatown businesses like A&K Jewelry and Magnet World, employees like Wong and Chavez have felt safer since foot patrols increased.

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