Skip to main content

San Francisco now towing drug dealers’ cars in latest crackdown effort

A tow truck with flashing lights is parked on a wet street at night, in front of apartment buildings.
A tow truck was spotted on Ellis and Hyde streets on Thursday night. The Mayor’s Office says drug dealers cars are now being towed as part of the Tenderloin crackdown. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

San Francisco has resorted to towing the cars of suspected drug dealers and people who are selling stolen goods as part of its latest effort to crack down on crime in the troubled Tenderloin neighborhood, according to Mayor London Breed’s office.

The city has made thousands of arrests for drug dealing and use in the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods since late May last year, when the multiagency crackdown began, with officers chasing dealers through the neighborhood’s streets.

Tenderloin residents and business owners have reported some improvements during the day. Still, illegal behavior has persisted at night on certain blocks, leaving some to search for more creative solutions, like this simple fence.

Last month, The Standard reported that Breed and other city officials were contemplating legislation that would force Tenderloin corner stores to close earlier, alleging they attract illegal activity.

Now, the city confirms it has resorted to towing the cars of drug dealers and illegal vendors.

The Standard witnessed a line of about seven tow trucks lugging cars away from Golden Gate Avenue and Jones Street on Wednesday night.

“That is part of our ongoing [Drug Market Agency Coordination Center] operation to target and disrupt illegal activity happening on our streets,” Breed’s spokesperson Parisa Safarzadeh told The Standard in a text message. “We are continuing to utilize every tool that is available to us, including towing drug dealers vehicles and people who are illegally fencing and using their vehicles to transport stolen goods.”

The San Francisco Police Department confirmed that, as part of the crackdown, officers have protected the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency during ongoing parking enforcement.

SFPD and the SFMTA have been contacted for more details on how police or parking control officers know the cars they tow belong to suspected criminals and how many have been towed, but officials are yet to respond.