San Francisco, CA

News crew robbed in San Francisco while reporting on robberies and car break-ins on Twin Peaks

Ed Walsh

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Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

A reporter from San Francisco television station KPIX-TV was robbed while reporting on a story about the rash of robberies and car breakins on Twin Peaks. The tourist-popular lookout is the second-highest peak in San Francisco after Mount Davidson and has long been a magnet for criminals who prey on tourists.

The incident happened on Wednesday, March 3 to veteran reporter and photographer Don Ford.

“The car came up here while we were about to do an interview, three guys jumped out,” Ford said. “One had a gun and put in my face and said, ‘We’re taking the camera.'”

The robbery lasted less than a minute, according to witnesses. Ford said a Glock-style gun was put in his face.

Ford said, “My whole thought at the moment was be calm. Let’s not get this guy excited. He’s got the gun. I don’t. So you take you the camera. It’s yours Buddy."

A homeowner in the area around Twin Peaks witnessed the robery and told KPIX, “I was worried that this is what’s gonna happen, because as thieves get more and more brazen, they do more and more brazenly things. I’m not making that up. We just had that experience today.”

Ford said that he could feel the adrenaline he felt during the robbery stuck with him for a time after the crime.

He recalleed, “I just looked and I said, ‘I’m not going to get shot today."

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

At least one of the city's politicians reacted to the crime. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman who represents District 8 that includes the city's famed Twin Peaks Tweeted:

"Earlier this afternoon a reporter was robbed at gunpoint at Twin Peaks Blvd & Burnett Ave while interviewing a resident about car break-ins in the area. @SFPD officers are working to find those responsible and recover the camera. This incident is ridiculous & unacceptable...but not entirely unexpected in San Francisco in 2021. We need to adequately resource public safety agencies, adopt better strategies to stop repeat offenders & make clear that San Francisco is not a place that you can commit crimes & put people's lives at risk with impunity. 2/2.

There has been an ongoing problem primarily in Oakland and San Francisco with news crews being robbed. All Bay Area television stations have hired security guards to accompany crews in high-crime areas. Ford apparently did not have a guard despite the problem of robberies and car break-ins on Twin Peaks.

San Francisco Police said the camera had a tracking device and was located but they did not provide further details.

In a Tweet, park station officers wrote: "The camera was recovered. This incident remains an active and ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous."

Neither police nor KPIX have released a descripition of the robbers.

Twin Peaks and a number of other areas in San Francisco popular with tourists have been plagued by smash-and grab robberies. As tourists stop for a minute to take a photo, the bad guys break into their cars and take whatever they can. Signs have been posted throughout those areas but the problem continues.

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Sign warns tourists to not leave any valuables in their car at tourist-popular Cottage Row. Photo by Ed Walsh

While the irony of a news reporter being robbed while doing a story on the robbery problem is getting national attention, many city residents are expressing a growing frustration on crime in San Francisco. The robbery of a television reporter at Twin Peaks became a story only because of that irony.

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