A CNN television crew had their car broken into outside City Hall while filming a segment about crime in San Francisco.
CNN’s senior national correspondent Kyung Lah said their vehicle's window was smashed and bags were taken within four seconds, despite the crew hiring a security detail to guard their rental car while they were in town.
San Francisco police confirmed the incident and said officers attended the scene at Grove Street and Van Ness Avenue, right outside City Hall at 12:09 p.m. on March 17. One of the victims tried to grab a suspect, who escaped into a getaway vehicle, police added. No arrests have been made.
Lah posted about the events to Twitter, in what has since become a viral tweet thread, seen millions of times according to the bird app’s own stats.
“We had security to watch our rental car and crew car,” wrote Lah on Twitter. “Thieves did this in under four seconds. Security stopped the jerks from stealing other bags. But seriously, this is ridiculous.”
Further on in the thread, Lah said she had loved her time in San Francisco and commented that it was a beautiful city, while warning others about leaving belongings in their car.
The intrepid reporter then had to traverse Oakland Airport on her way home without her ID, as it had been stolen—but apparently airlines are so used to travelers becoming victims of theft in the Bay Area that they have contingency plans in place to get passengers through security.
Lah praised airport security staff and later announced her bags had been found by SF’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs. Lah’s colleague’s bag was later found, too—but was missing a computer.
“If you fly out of Oakland, know the gas stations are being hit around the airport,” Lah said.
Supervisor Joel Engardio said he felt bad the reporters had become victims of theft while interviewing for a story about crime in the city. The newly elected moderate politician bills himself as tough on crime, a stance that has been credited as a driving force for a successful campaign that saw him pull off the rare feat of unseating an incumbent.
“That’s the great irony,” Engardio said. “It’s especially embarrassing that they were at City Hall, of all places. It poetically accentuates why they were here.”
Engardio added he not only feels bad for the reporters, but also for all San Franciscans as the theft plays into a national narrative that the city is unsafe and not a desirable place to visit.
“I want people to visit and experience the joy of SF,” said Engardio.
Joe Burn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org