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Crime in San Francisco is getting worse all the time — depending on who you ask.
Annual polls conducted by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce showed that the percentage of respondents who named crime as a “major issue” rose from 26% in 2020 to 46% in 2021 to 55% in 2022. This June, residents voted out former district attorney Chesa Boudin, with some of the city’s most powerful residents railing against him for being too soft on crime.
The statistics, though, say otherwise: While the number of burglaries and auto thefts went up from 2019 to 2021, property crime overall dropped by 14% and was lower in 2021 than any year since 2012, according to city data. The number of homicides ticked up to match the 2017 rate, but overall violent crime in 2021 was at its lowest rate in over a decade.
If these fears about crime reflect anything, it’s the rising desperation among financially comfortable locals holding on to a city that drives out its most marginalized communities. One public attorney said that the clients he defends “are primarily people stealing things for basic needs they can’t afford.” Jordan Smith, a former restaurant worker who was charged with petty theft, explained he felt he had to steal because, “I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m just trying to make ends meet.”
“The city’s changed a lot since I first started coming here,” Smith told BuzzFeed News. “But it’s still San Francisco. I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
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