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Armed robbers stormed his packed San Francisco coffee shop. Now he wants action

Mustapha Hakkou poses at his Vallejo home on Feb. 23, 2023.

A business owner is demanding a police crackdown after armed robbers stormed his packed Lower Haight cafe and tried to steal customers’ laptops.

Le Cafe Du Soleil owner Mustapha Hakkou released footage of the robbery that shows a man trying to rip a laptop away from a customer before a struggle ensues. Seconds later, another man enters the store brandishing a gun.

The bungling robbers left empty-handed after customers resisted, but the incident has left the cafe owner frightened about the brazen attempt.

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“This has happened before but never with a gun involved. It was a violation of my home,” said Hakkou, who has owned Le Cafe Du Soleil since it opened in 2005. “I spend more time at work than at home.”

Le Cafe Du Soleil was the site of an attempted robbery. | Courtesy Google Street View

Hakkou has lived in San Francisco for 34 years after moving from Morocco when he was 18 years old.

“I originally liked San Francisco because we didn’t have this issue like in the third world, but I’m sorry, it’s becoming like that,” said Hakkou, who heard about the robbery from an employee as he drove to Vallejo on Tuesday. Hakkou stays in San Francisco some nights but also owns a home in Vallejo.

Surveillance footage shows two people in black hoodies run towards the store. A camera from inside then shows a struggle as one man tries to swipe a laptop from a customer, but is met with fierce resistance. Another man then enters with a gun drawn and attempts to rescue his apparent collaborator. Footage from outside shows the pair flee less than a minute later, appearing to be empty-handed.

Surveillance footage shows an armed robbery occurring at Le Cafe Du Soleil in Lower Haight on Feb. 21, 2023. | Courtesy Le Cafe Du Soleil

Hakkou said that his workers were scared after the robbery attempt—two cooks and a barista hid in the walk-in cooler during the incident—and the store closed early that day.

After the armed robbery attempt, Hakkou called for increased police foot patrols in the area and said the city should prosecute low-level theft more harshly as a deterrent. 

“People need to understand we have law and order,” Hakkou said. “They steal the computer, and they get a misdemeanor, but that’s not the problem, it’s the violation of space. When someone violates me and I’m scared to go to work, that’s [worth] more than $1,000. That’s no way to live in SF.”

Le Cafe Du Soleil reopened in the Lower Haight at 400 Waller St. in January 2022 after the original location across the road at 200 Fillmore St. shuttered during Covid.

Mustapha Hakkou poses at his Vallejo home on Feb. 23, 2023. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

“We’ll keep pushing forward. Business is good, we’re getting back to where things used to be, but then this happens out of nowhere. I hope it doesn’t happen again,” Hakkou said.

The San Francisco Police Department confirmed the Tuesday robbery attempt happened at about 1:40 p.m. Officers said one of the three victims sustained a non-life-threatening injury.

A screenshot from surveillance footage shows a robbery at Le Cafe Du Soleil. | Courtesy image

“To improve operations and outcomes in cases like Le Café Du Soleil’s, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins created a Major Crimes Team within the General Felonies Division to focus on more serious and complex felony crimes like some armed robbery, and attempted murder cases which are time consuming and more complicated,” a spokesperson for the DA’s Office said in an email.

The police department was contacted for further comment.