Muni thefts can happen anywhere, anytime

Muni Accident At 3rd And Market

Whole Wheat Toast shares this cautionary tale.

Yes, you’ve heard it all the time. Be careful with your fancy electronics such as phones while on the Muni, especially while you’re riding through a sketchy part of town or on a sketchy line. But that caveat is becoming less and less the case.

I was on the 1 heading westbound coming home from Western Railway Museum today (7/16). The bus (5616) stopped at Sproule Street. Then, out of nowhere, a lady screams, “Help! That guy took my phone!”

I turned my head toward the window and saw a man who looked like he was in his 20s, with a hairstyle of Gavin Newsom (without the gel) and looked like Yvan Attai (the taxi driver in Rush Hour 3). Other than that, he was wearing a black sweater turtleneck and black jeans.

After he ran off, the lady ran after him only to stop short of the alley. A couple of people from the bus went to her, and deliberated on what just happened. The rest of the bus, however, was talking about how young he looked.

What about the driver? Oh, he didn’t do anything except he answered a passenger’s question of what happened. No call to Central Control. Nothing.

After a minute, we pulled off, and as I looked into the alley, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I run after him?” The answer was not common sense, but it was because I felt an anger, an unexplainable, intolerable anger.

So, a word of caution: NEVER EVER EVER USE YOUR PHONE ON PUBLIC TRANSIT. NOT EVEN ON COMMUNITY SERVICE ROUTES. The lowlifes who roam Muni all day looking for someone to prey on make me sick. And I’m sure they make you sick too. That is, unless you’re one of those lowlifes.


  • Ryan

    And do not be a HERO! An iwhatever is not worth your safety.

  • Even with caveats like these, I wonder why people still feel the need to pull out their phones and play with them on public transit. Boredom maybe, but really, do they want their phones to be stolen? I am bewildered every time I see people doing this.

    Even with my little “old” Motorola flip phone I prefer not to use it on the bus/train.

  • Well, I carry a bag, despite the fact that people get mugged for their purses and bags (a few years ago there was a bit of a crime spree in which assailants would take out a knife and cut the strap on a woman’s bag and take it from her), and yes, I read what’s on my “smart phone” on Muni. I try to always be aware of my surroundings and to keep my things close to me. But the whole point of having a “smart phone” (for me, at least) is that it allows me to read all kinds of different things while I’m commuting. So, Helene, if you’re wondering why I’m *gasp* pulling out my phone on transit, it’s because I’m interested in reading something on the SF Appeal site, or I’m browsing my Twitter stream, or I’m checking NextBus to decide which will arrive sooner: the 22 or the 24, so I can make a decision about which of those buses I want to take after I get off the 1.

    I don’t have an iPhone, so my phone is not necessarily recognizable to thieves as a big-ticket item (and, in fact, I don’t think thefts of my brand of phone are particularly high); but maybe we would have less thieving of phones all around if people would get involved (like, y’know, maybe the driver actually reporting the crime).

    Whole Wheat Toast seems to have gotten a pretty good look at the guy; I’m assuming he offered this info. to police.

  • Kristin

    Ugh! This really scares me. You see, I live in Tokyo. Before that, I was a Gator riding the M on the daily. Here in Tokyo, EVERYONE is on their phones all the time. Our public transportation is relatively safe, efficient, and usually on time.

    Well I’m moving back to my beloved San Francisco in November, along with my English husband, who has only ever visited San Francisco for 4 days.

    I never really felt unsafe on MUNI, but maybe that’s because I used to be an invincible college kid. Things sound bad over there. This is not reassuring.

  • Kristin, if this reassures you: I travel on Muni every day, multiple times a day, as I have for the last 12 years. I’ve yet to be mugged, and I haven’t had my phone or iPod stolen. That’s not to say you want to be riding as though crime doesn’t exist, but I just wanted to point out that you also don’t need to board every bus and train as though they are full of pickpockets and rogues.

    When I was a member of 24 Fitness, however, I had my wallet stolen and a watch stolen from there, on separate occasions. So if you’re joining a gym when you arrive in SF, strap everything to your person as you workout. That’s my advice.

  • sn00zbtn

    I saw yet another attempted mugging yesterday on the 21-Hayes outbound.

    The thief fake tripped as he was getting off the bus and tried to grab at a man’s new iPhone 4. He failed, ran off the bus (and oddly continued running uphill instead of downhill…)

    There’s not much that can be done as petty crimes happen every day, but just be absolutely aware of your surroundings. Especially when you have something of value in your hands.

    Side note:

    I do wish that bus drivers would enforce fare collection… the 21-Hayes and the 5-Fulton drivers never seem to check or care.

    Though these two events are not mutually exclusive, the mugger that attempted to steal the iPhone yesterday did not pay to get onboard, he and his friends hopped in through the back door.

  • Janet Olson

    I’m sorry that someone stole your wallet. Nothing makes me angrier than someone who feels entitled to something that doesn’t belong to them. Have you contacted the Police Department? Perhaps they can send you something, or this company to help in getting back your stuff

  • Henry Larry

    It is disheartening to hear about these incidents happening on public transit. Lets band together as a community to look out for one another and make public spaces safer for everyone.
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