This community-led effort in San Francisco helps return stolen items to its owners

3 mins read

Stolen belongings from smash and grab incidents are returned to their owners in San Francisco, thanks to a community-initiated move.

Richmond District has seen several stolen belongings, like backpacks and luggage, which are being thrown in the garbage as the city records dozens of car break-ins every day, KRON4 reported.

Many of the people in the neighborhood took to an app called Nextdoor the stolen belongings they have found.

The idea was started by a man about a year ago who was able to help 50 tourists reunite with their stolen things.

The broken glass and scattered luggage are noticeable across the San Francisco Streets.

“From Park Presidio to about 20th Avenue is a place where we find them daily,” according to Mark Dietrich.

People behind the break-ins target places like the Fisherman’s Wharf. They get things from their victims and throw away suitcases.

“When they want to make a quick getaway, they jump on the Golden Gate Bridge and it spits them out into our neighborhood, and boom this is the first place where they can pull into a parking spot and dump it in someone’s driveway,” Dietrich said, adding that over the last year, he was able to gather dozens of bags and started to return them to its owners.

“Sometimes it’s one backpack, a week or two ago, it was an entire college women’s volleyball team whose vans were smashed again at Land’s End and took all of their gear and equipment,” he said.

It’s not always a piece of stuff he helped return, but also some sentimental ones like an Army veteran’s bag. Its owner said the backpack stayed with them in Iraq for two hours but was gone shortly in San Francisco.

Another neighbor also found another bag on Monday. The person posted it on Nextdoor for it to be brought back to its owner.

“Somebody messaged me, “Hey I found a bag. I don’t know what to do with it.” So I zipped over there, got the bag. I mean the bags right here. I’ve gone through it and there’s no identification, absolutely nothing in it,” Dietrich said.

Dietrich said items without any identification leads are being turned over to the police.

Nextdoor is not the only venue the neighbors use to do something about the break-in problems, as there are others who took to Facebook or Twitter any stolen items they want to return to its owners.