Skip to main content

San Francisco ambulance stolen in ‘stake from a tree’ attack, taken for joy ride around Best Buy parking lot

A man smashed the windows of San Francisco Fire Department Emergency Medical vehicle with a heavy wooden object at 6:55am on Monday, August 29, 2022 at 1717 Harrison Street in San Francisco. Courtesy SFFD

San Francisco Fire Department paramedics were left shaken after their ambulance was stolen by a man wielding a “stake from a tree” Monday morning, officials said.

The pair of Local 798 paramedics escaped unharmed after the incident at 6:50 a.m., which saw a male suspect break the windows of the ambulance at the 1700 block of Harrison Street, according to the police and fire departments

The suspect then “began to drive laps in the Best Buy parking lot,” according to police investigations Deputy Chief Raj Vaswani. “[The suspect] chased the fire personnel with the ambulance trying to hit them. Then [the suspect] abandoned the ambulance in the back lot, fled the scene by scaling a fence at Treat/Florida St.”

The Mid-Market-based fire department union has now demanded that District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Mayor London Breed take action.

“This morning two of our members were attacked by someone who used a stake from a tree, smashing windows and trying to assault them,” said Local 798 on Twitter. “This is another ambulance out of service and two personnel who are rightfully shaken up.”

The paramedics were not injured.  

“We have all been patient enough,” Local 798 said on Twitter. “It's time for some changes. @SFMayorsOffice @LondonBreed @BrookeJenkinsSF."

“We’re seeing this more often by far in SF,” said Local 798 director Tim Finch. “I've been a paramedic in SF for 14 years, a significant part of that at night, but this is one of the more significant events of assault against our crews.” 

Finch explained that crews being assaulted has been normalized.

“That starts to wear on your mental health over time and the city deserves us at our best,” he said. “Our biggest concern is the lack of accountability from this, they think if they’re arrested they'll be back out tomorrow, so we want more of them to think about the accountability from that.” 

Local 798 added that last week their union hall “was broken into and ransacked”.  

But San Francisco police officers responded and caught the burglar who did “$15,000 to $20,000 dollars worth of damage” on Aug, 15., said Finch.

“This is upsetting when it happens to our residents, visitors and city staff,” said a Mayor’s Office spokesperson. “Our firefighters, paramedics and all first responders work hard every single day - oftentimes putting their lives on the line - to ensure the safety of San Franciscans. We take incidents like this seriously and want to thank SFPD for their involvement in these investigations.” 

The district attorney’s office has been contacted for comment.

Joe Burn can be reached at