A TV news reporter was robbed at gunpoint by a gang of thieves while he was coincidentally investigating a rash of robberies in San Francisco.
KPIX-TV reporter Don Ford was covering a flurry of smash-and-grab car thefts in San Francisco's Twin Peaks neighborhood. He was interviewing residents in the area about the rise in crime. While preparing for a TV segment about the robberies on Wednesday, he became a victim himself of a robbery.
A white sedan pulled up to where Ford was getting ready to film, three men exited the vehicle and held Ford at gunpoint. The bandits, one armed with a Glock handgun, stole the news channel's camera in less than a minute.
"The car came up here while we were about to do an interview, three guys jumped out," Ford said. "One had a gun and put in my face and said, 'We're taking the camera.'"
"My whole thought at the moment was be calm. Let's not get this guy excited. He's got the gun. I don't. So you take you the camera. It's yours buddy," Ford explained.
The homeowner that Ford was preparing to interview was motionless as the armed robbery took place right in front of him. He said, "I just looked and I said, 'I'm not going to get shot today.'"
"I was worried that this is what's gonna happen, because as thieves get more and more brazen, they do more and more brazenly things. I'm not making that up. We just had that experience today," the man who didn't want to be identified told KPIX.
"I'm not sure my adrenaline has settled down yet," Ford said.
KPIX 5 Reporter Robbed At Gunpoint While Looking Into Auto Thefts At San Francisco Twin Peaks www.youtube.com
No one was injured, but everyone was shaken.
Joel Engardio, a San Francisco news columnist, shared what he claims to be surveillance video of the robbery.
The San Francisco Police Department released a statement saying the camera, which had a tracking chip inside, had been recovered on Wednesday. The police did not provide any further details on the robbery, and were asking the public for information.
Residents say that robberies have spiked ever since the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency closed the access road to the popular vista point at the beginning of the pandemic.
"You want to have that for open space? We want that, too. But protect us. We shouldn't pay the penalty for that action that SFMTA caused upon us," a local homeowner said.
On Tuesday night, the SFMTA board voted to reopen one Twin Peaks access road, but voted to keep another closed. The SFMTA also released a statement, "We are saddened to hear about what happened to reporter, Don Ford, while covering the story today."
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the city's District 8 that includes Twin Peaks, said the armed stick-up was "ridiculous and unacceptable but not entirely unexpected."
"We need to adequately resource public safety agencies, adopt better strategies to stop repeat offenders and make clear that San Francisco is not a place that you can commit crimes and put people's lives at risk with impunity," he wrote on Twitter.
A mid-February report found that robberies in 2021 were up 370% in the Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco.