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San Francisco filmmaker blasts cops after tracking $24K of stolen gear to alleged fencing operation

Justin Schuck stands near an address on Leavenworth Street, the last known location of his stolen camera gear. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

A filmmaker is venting his frustration with law enforcement on both sides of the San Francisco Bay after tracking $24,000 worth of camera equipment stolen in Oakland to a San Francisco address that one officer told him was a known fencing operation.

Filmmaker Justin Andrew Schuck publicly railed about thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment being taken from the trunk of a rental Tesla last Saturday while he was eating lunch at a restaurant in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood.

“It is RIDICULOUS that the cops are aware of a major criminal enterprise that facilitates the quick selling of stolen goods, and yet nothing is done,” Schuck wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “Oakland PD still hasn’t formalized the filed police report. I’m out $24,338.07 in uninsured camera equipment. The crime is out of control. What am I to do, really?”

Broken glass litters the inside of a rented and broken-into 2023 Tesla Model S on Broadway near 24th Street in Oakland last Saturday.
Broken glass litters the inside of a rented and broken-into Tesla on Broadway near 24th Street in Oakland last Saturday. | Source: Courtesy Justin Andrew Schuck

The graduate film student at San Francisco State University told The Standard he called 911 and waited for 13 minutes before speaking with an Oakland police dispatcher, who told him he may have to wait three hours for an officer to respond in person. 

READ MORE: Filmmaker Blasts San Francisco Police After $30K in Camera Gear Stolen in Car Break-In

Schuck provided The Standard with a copy of a temporary police report, which he filed online with the Oakland Police Department. An Oakland police spokesperson said they couldn’t provide further details on the incident until a report had been finalized.

Broken glass litters the inside of a rented and broken-into 2023 Tesla Model S on Broadway near 24th Street in Oakland last Saturday.
Broken glass litters the inside of a rented and broken-into Tesla on Broadway near 24th Street in Oakland last Saturday. | Source: Courtesy Justin Andrew Schuck

Schuck then used Apple AirTags to track his stolen gear across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco before alerting the San Francisco Police Department. An officer then asked Schuck for the location of the AirTags. 

“When I said [an address on] Leavenworth [in the Tenderloin], he said, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s a known major fencing operation,’ and my head exploded,” Schuck said. “I wasn’t angry. It was just a rip in the fabric of my understanding, the matter-of-fact way he said it, followed with something equally disturbing: ‘Criminals all over the Bay Area know they can go there to fence their stolen equipment.’”

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

The AirTags stopped working at around 3:13 p.m. on Saturday, Schuck said. He has since set up a GoFundMe to cover the cost of replacing his gear. 

Schuck provided The Standard with screenshots documenting his purchases of camera equipment over several months this year and the AirTags’ partial and final locations, as well as images of the damaged Tesla and a copy of his Hertz vehicle incident report after returning it to San Francisco International Airport on Sunday.

A San Francisco police spokesperson said Thursday they could not initially find any incidents related to the Oakland auto burglary.

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

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

Broken glass glints within a "bipped" rear driver-side window of a rented 2023 Tesla Model S on Broadway near 24th Street in Oakland last Saturday.
Broken glass glints in a "bipped" rear driver-side window of a rented Tesla on Broadway near 24th Street in Oakland last Saturday. | Source: Courtesy Justin Andrew Schuck

Theft from a vehicle (auto burglary) is up 46% in Oakland in the 12 months before Sept. 10, according to the Oakland Police Department—that’s a total of 10,176 incidents over that time period.

In San Francisco, there have been around 22,049 theft from vehicle incidents in the 12 months before Sept. 13, according to police data analyzed by The Standard. In 2019, that figure was 23,737.

George Kelly can be reached at gkelly@sfstandard.com