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Filmmaker blasts San Francisco police after $30K in camera gear stolen in car break-in

Filmmaker Eli Steele’s rental car window is smashed after a reported theft on Wednesday near Lombard and Hyde streets. | Courtesy Eli Steele | Source: Courtesy Eli Steele

A filmmaker took to Twitter to blast San Francisco police and crime after his car was broken into and $30,000 worth of camera equipment was stolen Wednesday near Lombard and Hyde streets, a wealthy area popular with tourists. 

Filmmaker Eli Steele first tweeted that he had lost around $15,000 worth of camera gear after his rental car windows were smashed at around 11 a.m. near the famous winding street.

Upon further inspection, he said $25,000 to $30,000 worth of filming equipment was taken in the theft. He told The Standard via text message that a total of $30,000 worth of equipment had been stolen.

“SF police do nothing,” wrote Steele on Twitter. “While dealing with our situation we see more robbers pulling up in a Mercedes and looking into cars. We yelled at them. They pulled a gun on my friend. He’s filing his report now. Not one police officer showed up.”

A broken car window is seen in San Francisco on Oct. 19, 2021. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

The San Francisco Police Department confirmed Steele reported the crime and did not comment on the criticism aimed at them in the tweet thread. Police said no arrests have been and the investigation remains ongoing.

READ MORE: San Francisco Car Window Repair Shop Gets 25 Calls a Day for Break-Ins

Later in the viral tweet thread, Steele said a police officer at Central Station expressed sympathy for the theft but told him the police had been “defanged” and that nothing would likely be done to help recover his equipment.

Twitter owner Elon Musk later weighed in on the crime debate, tweeting in reply to the viral thread that employees of the social media company feel unsafe coming to work in their Downtown San Francisco offices on Market Street and have given up reporting crimes to the police.

Steele said he is in San Francisco to film a documentary starring his father Shelby Steele, and the film is a look at how George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police officers affected America.

His father is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution and has commented publicly on Fox News about what he believes to be the inauthenticity of the Black Lives Matter movement. The father and son duo made a documentary about the killing of Michael Brown in Missouri that sparked the BLM movement.

READ MORE: CNN Crew’s Car Broken Into While Filming About SF’s Crime Woes

“I’ve worked dangerous neighborhoods for years, and nothing like this,” said Steele in the Twitter thread. 

San Francisco police and officials have long acknowledged that property crime is a major problem. Organized gangs are thought to be behind the rampant car break-ins, known as “bipping” locally.

San Francisco police documented about 6,640 thefts from vehicles through the end of April 2023, the most recent data available. That was a 2% decrease from 2022 when there were about 6,760 incidents during the same period.

Joe Burn can be reached at