SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A KPIX 5 reporter investigating a series of automated break-ins around Twin Peaks in San Francisco was robbed of his camera at gunpoint on Wednesday.
Residents who live near the city’s landmark say car break-ins have been the norm in the neighborhood since the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Authority (SFMTA) closed the access road to the popular lookout point to car traffic at the beginning of the pandemic.
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On Wednesday afternoon, the smashings turned into armed robbery. KPIX 5 reporter Don Ford was back in history Tuesday and Wednesday preparing to interview homeowners nearby when a white luxury sedan with four men pulled up.
“The car came up here when we were going to do an interview, three guys jumped out,” said Ford. “One had a gun and put it in my face and said, ‘We’re going to take the camera.'”
The whole encounter with a Glock in the face lasted less than a minute. “My whole thought right now was to be calm. Let’s not upset this guy. He’s got the gun. Not me. So you take the camera. It’s your buddy. “
“I was afraid this would happen because when thieves get bolder, they do bolder things. I’m not doing that. We just had this experience today, ”said a neighbor who did not want to be identified to KPIX 5.
Homeowner Ford, who was preparing for the interview, stood very still when the scene played out in front of him: “I just looked and said I wasn’t going to be shot today.”
Nobody was hurt, but everyone was shocked. “I’m not sure my adrenaline has settled,” said Ford.
The homeowner says neighborhood safety needs to be addressed and a priority for the future. “Do you want this for open spaces? We want that too. But protect us. But we shouldn’t pay the penalty for this action that the SFMTA imposed on us. “
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On Tuesday evening, the SFMTA board voted to reopen a Twin Peaks access road at Portola Ave. gate, but voted to keep Burnett Ave. gate closed.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents District 8 of the city, which includes Twin Peaks, said in a tweet that the robbery was “ridiculous and unacceptable … but not entirely unexpected”.
In the early afternoon, a reporter was robbed at gunpoint on Twin Peaks Blvd & Burnett Ave while interviewing a resident about car break-ins in the area. @ SFPD officials are working to find those responsible and restore the camera. This incident is ridiculous and unacceptable … 1/2
– Rafael Mandelman (@RafaelMandelman) March 3, 2021
In a statement on Wednesday evening, the SFMTA said: “We are sad to hear what happened to reporter Don Ford as we cover the story today.
“To address these concerns, the South End Gate on Portola Drive was opened daily between 6:00 p.m. and midnight in September to give drivers access to the local peaks. However, some unresolved issues remain so the SFMTA worked with the community and other city departments including Rec and Park, SFPD and Public Works on new ideas to ensure access and the balance of needs at Twin Peaks, ”continued the Agency continues.
The agency said a plan approved by the SFMTA board of directors on Tuesday would “improve the safety and accessibility of the Twin Peaks area for all”.
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San Francisco police said the camera with a tracking chip was recovered later Wednesday, but further details are not immediately available.