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San Francisco liquor store burgled twice after decades without incident

Mekonnen Seyoum, owner and manager for the market which has been around for 20 years. | Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

A liquor store tucked away on a quiet street in the Inner Sunset was hit by two break-ins in the last two weeks, according to store owner and manager Mekonnen Seyoum.

A neighborhood mainstay for 20 years, U.C. Market has never had a substantial incident before this February, Seyoum said. 

Robbers smashed the front door’s glass and cut through the deadbolt lock early Tuesday morning at around 5 a.m. Once inside, they trashed Seyoum’s store, stealing liquor and cigarettes, before moving onto a bigger target: the ATM machine. 

U.C. Market in the Inner Sunset was hit by two break-ins in the last two weeks, according to the owner. | Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

“They took my ATM machine, and though the police recovered it, it’s still in the police station,” Seyoum said.

The robbers were first apprehended by a retired SF police lieutenant who happened to be bicycling around the neighborhood when he saw the suspects dragging the ATM across Third Avenue. Neighbors also heard and witnessed the break-in, and multiple people called the police. 

“I heard a bunch of commotion and then was woken up, freaked out, at 5 a.m.,” said Juliana Block, a neighbor who lives within sight of the market. “I heard people yelling at [the robbers], ‘Get outta there,’ and saw a car, a man on a bike yelling at the robbers and the ATM between them.”   

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San Francisco Police surround U.C. Market in Inner Sunset after one of two break-ins in two weeks. | Courtesy Juliana Block

SFPD says the suspects were unsuccessful in stealing the ATM and were last seen fleeing on Third Avenue in a dark colored SUV. The suspects allegedly ran away once the bicyclist called the police, leaving the ATM behind in the middle of the street. Seyoum’s ATM is still not yet recovered, and his cash register is broken from the incident. U.C. Market reopened for business the same day and has since replaced the broken glass. 

Yet, Seyoum says the most recent burglary was not nearly as bad as one a few weeks prior. Burglars again broke in through the glass front door and stole precious goods in the early hours of the morning.

“This time, they only took cigarettes and some kinds of Hennessy,” Seyoum said.

He said he does not know if the incidents are connected. 

“Two weeks ago, they took a lot.” Seyoum said. “They took my personal computer, cigarettes and the cash register was full of money that’s now gone. They took all my stuff.” 

U.C. Market | Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

Workers at a nearby market on Fifth Avenue say they have not had any attempted break-ins, and that they were surprised to hear about the U.C. Market robberies given the neighborhood’s proximity to schools and UCSF hospital. Neighbors say they saw police officers patrolling the street by the market late Tuesday evening.

“We’ve never had break-ins like this before,” Seyoum said. “Maybe four years ago, a crazy lady used to come in and just take coins [from our tip jar]. But nothing like this.” 

SFPD says that no arrests have been made at this time and that it is an open investigation.