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Cell phone robbery spree: San Francisco Police suspect group of teens

A San Francisco Police Department officer stands near the cable car turntable at Powell and Market streets in San Francisco on June 20, 2023. | Isaac Ceja/The Standard | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

A string of cell phone robberies targeting women in a handful of San Francisco neighborhoods have been attributed to a group of teenagers.

Police records from June 23 to July 4 show 22 reported cell phone robberies, with nine incidents reported on June 26 alone. The Standard’s review of records found the robberies occurred across the city with clusters of three cell phone robberies in the Yerba Buena part of SoMa, the Tenderloin, Union Square and Noe Valley. Fifteen of the robberies targeted women, and seven of those allegedly involved juvenile suspects.

Richard Corriea, a retired San Francisco police commander, noted that cell phone thefts are common and that it makes sense that robbers target affluent areas and women, specifically.

“People involved in criminal activity do a certain amount of risk management,” Corriea said. “Would they go after a 240-pound adult male, or someone smaller or lighter than them?”

One victim, who spoke to The Standard on the condition of anonymity, said she was robbed of her phone in NoPa by someone who appeared to be a teenager. She later tracked her phone to West Wind Coliseum Swap Meet, a flea market in Oakland.

“I’ve reevaluated my relationship with my phone,” she said. “It’s not a big financial loss; it’s just sad that it happened.”

Another victim, who asked to be identified by her initials out of fear criminals would retaliate, said that her phone was stolen at the corner of Sanchez and Clipper streets on June 26 around 5:15 p.m. C.W. said she tracked her phone’s location to the same Oakland flea market.

Officers searched the area where they tracked her phone to and failed to locate it, police said.

“I could care less about my phone," C.W. said. "I’m worried about these people repeatedly attacking women."

San Francisco police said that 11 robberies have been connected to a single group of teenage suspects. One suspect, who was under 18 years of age, was arrested and is believed to belong to that group.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents Noe Valley, said that he is aware of “at least three” incidents in that neighborhood connected to that group of teenagers.

The number of youth reportedly arrested for robberies has plummeted in San Francisco over the past few decades. There were 537 minors arrested for robberies in the city in 1995, according to FBI crime data; by 2010, juvenile robbery arrests had dropped to 188, and between 2019 and 2021, there were fewer than 30 every year.

READ MORE: ‘Super Disappointed’: SF Juvenile Hall’s Future In Limbo

SFPD did not respond to multiple requests for comment and did not confirm other cell phone theft incidents.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at