As a wave of catalytic converter thefts intensifies around the country, one would think that cops in major cities would want to make examples of offenders – especially those caught in the act.
One would be wrong… at least when it comes to San Francisco.
At around 3am Tuesday in the city’s Richmond District, witnesses saw a catalytic converter theft in progress and called the cops. A man was backing a stolen Honda Accord into a parking space – the ‘donor’ car – while a second suspect sat nearby in a jeep.
“I woke up to the sound of you know, like, drilling. It was extremely loud,” said resident Morgan Heller, who immediately called police – who arrived in three minutes, according to KTVU.
Jeep guy took off before the cops arrived, but Heller and her roomate kept their eye on the first suspect. Much to their surprise, the cops let him go.
“I heard them say, ‘You are free to go,” said Heller, who said the suspect even asked officers where the closest bus stop was.
“I was like, ‘Why not do the white-glove treatment and just order him an Uber?” asked Heller. “It was embarrassing… The overall assessment is that we have to do better than this.”
Catalytic-converter suspect caught trying to steal device is freed by @SFPDRichmond & given directions to bus stop. "Why not do the white-glove treatment & just order him an @Uber?" incredulous witness asks pic.twitter.com/jNW3BIhdFF
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) August 20, 2022
Their excuse? Cops told Heller their computer systems were down, so they couldn’t positively ID the suspect, or find the owner of the Honda – so they let him go.
“To see such inaction, its hard for me to understand what is the threshold for arrest and what is a reasonable expectation for police action,” said Heller.
The SFPD released the following statement in response to the incident: “Our job is not just to enforce the law, but to ensure everyone is protected by the law. Releasing a possible suspect does not mean the investigation is over. In fact, it means the investigation is just beginning.”