San Francisco pickpockets, a sketch

To the thieves who stole Stephanie‘s wallet and iPhone at the CAV Wine Bar and Kitchen on Friday night around 8pm:


Sketch of our San Francisco pickpockets

My first thought as you saddled up to the bar next us while we ate our dinner was, “Hmm odd couple”. A white woman with dark blond hair, relatively tall, in her mid to late 30s, and a short black man, in his mid to late 50s. The woman was wearing a black jacket, and the man was wearing what can only be described as an over-sized khaki “zoot suit”. But whatever, it’s San Francisco right?

What bothered me was that the woman refused to sit down. The whole time she continued standing at the bar, in front of the chair talking to the bartender about who knows what. This struck me as so out of the ordinary that I actually mentioned it to Stephanie. I don’t remember them leaving, but by the time we were waiting for dessert to arrive, Stephanie reached down to her black sling bag that she’d had on the side of the chair and noticed both zippers were open.

Well, guys, thank you for ruining our night. We hope you are enjoying the $500 worth of groceries you purchased at Safeway with her cards. We also hope you’re entertained by the $40 worth DVDs you “rented” from the kiosk in Safeway that I’m guessing you have no plan to return. And we both sincerely hope that the $700 worth of clothing you purchased at Old Navy is keeping you warm at night. Most of all we appreciate the hassle you put us through, having to cancel her cards, get a new drivers license, and spend $250-500 on a new iPhone. Thank you, really, you shouldn’t have.

If anyone stumbles upon this pair casing other restaurants around town, please call the San Francisco Police Department (553-1141) and leave a message for officer C. Leung #12281, with regard to case #091094361. Thanks.

Update: Based on advice from a few people, I threw together a PDF flyer that I’m going to have printed and pass out to some of the bars and restaurants around the 1600 block of Market. If anyone wants a copy to download and print, please feel free.


Also, big thanks to NOTCOT, SFist, Eater SF, and Spots Unknown for helping spread the word!

Update, Oct 28, 2009: In case anyone found my sketch a little hard to decipher, Andy whipped up a more “photo-realistic” rendering:

Andy's version of my 'Sketch of our San Francisco pickpockets'

Update, Mar 4, 2010: I got the following email today from a complete stranger:

A friend of mine was also ripped off by the couple you described in your blog. The male half of the duo (I’m about 90% positive) has been hanging out with the other crackheads for the last 24 hours in front of [Dalva on 16th street]. Little black dude sunken cheeks wearing a big yellowish zuit suitish outfit. He’s was wearing a gold 49ers jacket over it last I saw him.



Does the phone have GPS tracking? :)


Having gone through something like this, San Francisco police will do nothing. My ex-wife’s purse was stolen by a security guard at City Tow while we were picking up my motorcycle (yeah thanks DPT) one day. They charged about $2,500 in clothing at 3 stores. A black woman did all the purchasing using my pale, caucasion, red-headed wife’s cards & driver’s license when asked for ID. I went around and got all the videos/did all the leg-work, even tracked down the thief and confronted him. The detective “on the case” told me in no uncertain terms, “Stop fucking calling me, I have 2,500 cases and don’t give a shit about you”.

makes it hard to find sympathy for SFPD.

what a bad thing !! :-(((

Oh no. So very sorry for the theft, but also for the days and days of resolution afterwards. What a drag.

Joy, we cancelled AT&T service to the phone. I suppose if more had been stolen it would have been worth it, but to the SF police, this is just a drop in the bucket. Maybe for them, but $250-500 for replacing an iPhone is a pretty significant drop in our buckets!

mhalligan, man that sucks. I stopped by the Safeway that night and talked to the store manager who basically said, if you want the video tapes, the police are going to have to subpoena the store. WTF is the point of recording everyone if you can’t freakin’ look at the tapes? My only hope is that these are small time criminals without an eye toward more sophiticated identity theft.


The safeway store manager is an idiot. The cops don’t issue subpoenas, technically court does, and you can make that happen by being a party to a lawsuit against these individuals, even as “Doe” defendants. Ask a lawyer friend what you can do (you probably don’t want to spend money on this).

You can access those tapes if you are willing to put a little work into it (not that you should have to, or particuarly want to, I’m just sayin’ that the Safeway mngr is basically blowing you off).


Further, you should talk to that same mngr re: policies on credit card buys. Does safeway not have a policy to verify identity on cc purchases? Tell him you will name Safeway, the cashier, and him individually as the mngr (or whoever was the mngr on duty) as parties to the lawsuit unless you get some cooperation. Obviously honey works better the vinegar, so play nice. They should really cooperate for al lkinds of reasons, including raising the profile of this kind of theft…


Anyway good luck


This sucks sorry to hear. If it helps I’ve been careless with my belongings this helps as a reminder to be more aware of my surroundings and be observant of those around me. I hope there is a good resolution to this crime.


you might distribute the story and pix to the bartenders and bar managers… they don’t want that kind of activity in their places… and if she was talking to the bartender, he might know her…


Never ever hang you purse on the back of your chair. I got mine stolen that way once. Seems there are folks who cruise restaurants looking for these purses, and snagging them with a hook! Although sounds like your suspects were quite inventive, being able to empty the purse unnoticed in situ.

Gotta tell you that there are few things more humiliating than sitting in a Mervyns office (buying basic underwear) until they believe you a really are you, and not the impostor who ripped them off to the tune of $500.


Had the same type crime duo, since when do pick pockets pair up? Had my wallet taken a week before a flight which left me moneyless, ID-less, meal plan card for school…less and credit card-less. The most amazing thing is just how fast they can charge the cards. Got everything back in time (sans cash) but getting my boarding ticket and through security was a fun afternoon.

And no, I left SFPD out of it, the guys who got me were stereotypical mexican immigrants, 5’9″ dark skin, hoodies, baseball caps, work jeans, and beat up nikes. Keeping the stereotype alive. They used my credit card to buy CalTrain tickets back to mexico. Oh well, not a major issue, but worth getting creative on how you store your wallet

Sympathetic, thanks for the feedback. I’m not exactly sure how far I want to pursue getting access to the video tapes. I’ve whipped together a flyer (at the bottom of the post) that I’ll pass around the stores they ripped off. Who knows, it might make them a little more amenable to the cause. Sure would make great blog fodder tho!

Lisey and Pamela, believe me, big lesson learned. Stephanie feels pretty foolish for leaving her bag where she did, but also for not sensing my unease at the couple next to us when I mentioned their strange behavior to her. Oh well.

Jari, I took your advice and whipped up a flyer. I’m having it printed as I type and I’m going to head down to that stretch of Market and hand them out.


Be careful handing out fliers where those guys hang out. In spite of how cliche it is and how well it fits the stereotype, the odds are that guy really was her pimp. Pimps have muscle and gangs, etc. Posting fliers at 6th and Market is a good way to get jumped. You’re best off letting it go. Be glad you’re not them…


Ok, these guys had a strange behaviour. But couldn´t it be possible that some other guy/girl noticed you, being distracted by this couple and then stole your wallet?
Isn´t it possible to watch the videotapes from the stores where the thief spent your money?
Hope they get them.

Added Andy’s more “photo-realistic” sketch to the bottom of the post.


sucks about the theft but, shit, your description of the guy’s clothes is pretty funny.


I had a similar experience at my fave place in the Mission (a very nice upscale place). A guy waltzed in, with a wild red coat, much too large, got my bag and I caught him. He had 2 other bags. I was not nice to him, but got my bag back and the others. My bad for being lax, learn the lesson—don’t be complacent and trusting about your belongings.I saw him come in and had a bad feeling, then I was almost the victim.
Hold on to your belongings!

T, yeah, that’s the thing that really bothers me. That I noticed them acting strange and didn’t pay closer attention.

I hear you. Just two months ago I was traveling abroad from from Australia in San Francisco and was at a Starbucks working using their wifi. I had a table to myself and had generously offered it to several other people to share with me. Upon leaving I noticed my wallet had been taken from my bag. I’ll just tell you something, having your wallet stolen abroad is twice as bad. Thank god my passport was secure, but I’d lost my press credential, my license, all my cash, credit cards and ID. I had to do a two and a half hour walk home since I had no cab, let alone bus fare. I’ve been so aware ever since then, treat San Fran and its whores and junkies as though you were traveling in a third word country.


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