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Recent Kidnappings Target Latinos in San Francisco

Mission Loc@l, News Report, Amanda Martinez Posted: Jun 01, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO -- In at least two cases this month assailants have forced victims walking in the Mission District late at night into vehicles, held them long enough to rob them and then released them several blocks away.

A police source told Mission Loc@l that it is possible that day laborers, known as ATMs because they carry cash, are being targeted. It is unclear if the victims in these cases were day laborers but all three individuals were Latino according to police reports.

Police say if day laborers are being targeted it will not be easy to determine. The largely undocumented population of workers is often hesitant to report crimes for fear of being deported.
Vermont StBlood trails line Vermont Street
Photo by Amanda Martinez

In a third case this month, a Latina reported an attempted street abduction, according to police.

Police Information Officer Lynn Tomioka said that police yet to determine any patterns that link the attempted and other kidnappings. Because of the ongoing investigation, descriptions of the vehicles in these cases have not been made public. So far no arrests have been made.

In the most recent kidnapping case it was a staff member at San Francisco General Hospital, not the victim, who called police. The victim, a 27 year-old Hispanic male, was dragged into a white van around 1 a.m. near 20th and Bryant streets according to police sources.

Police said the victim was intoxicated when he arrived at the hospital and that it is not uncommon for criminals to prey on people who appear to be drunk.

In the area near 20th and Bryant streets, businesses like Deli Up Caf close as early as 4 p.m., leaving the neighborhood fairly deserted after dark. The only activity comes from Blowfish Restaurant, a popular sushi bar between 19th and 20th street, which stays open until 11:00 p.m. during the week.

Blowfish hostess Olia Kedik said she did not hear or see anything suspicious on Thursday night and added that the staff members have been taking extra safety precautions since an attempted robbery earlier this year.

When the victim was picked up near the restaurant, it was already past business hours. The suspects drove the abducted victim less than a mile away to 25th and Vermont streets.

Residents on Vermont, which runs alongside the James Lick Freeway, said the isolated two-block stretch has been used as a place to dump trash, take prostitutes, and conduct drug activity.

The victim was pulled out of the van and when he refused to turn over his property he was struck over his head with an unknown object, according to the police report.

Fred Reppun, a fireman on duty Thursday night at the Bureau of Equipment on 25th at Vermont St. said he did not hear anything unusual. The brick buildingonly identifiable as a fire station by a small sign near the garageis open 24 hours, but the gates are closed at night, Reppun said.

Instead of going to the station, however, the victim headed north on Vermont toward the hospital.
On Friday morning, two neighbors stood outside on the sidewalk talking about the drops of fresh blood that trailed the sidewalk on Vermont near 25th Street to the parking lot of the hospital between 23rd and 22nd Street.

Tim Taylor, a 56-year-old homeless man who said hes been in the neighborhood 11 years and has slept on Vermont for the last six years, said he heard something late at night, but didnt think anything of it.

Then 15 minutes or so later, some police came shining their light and waking me up and asking me what I saw, he said. They said it happened right in front of me.

Bill Stone, who owns the Atlas Caf, stood outside talking to Taylor, who sleeps in a makeshift barricade across from his home.

Earlier, when a reporter interrupted them to talk, Taylor excused himself to pee against the highway embankment, before returning to the conversation. It was a moment of urban reality that upset neither Taylor nor Stone, and acted as a reminder that both homeless and homeowners accommodate each other when one of them lacks access to basic services.

Stone continued that he had gone to bed early and had not heard commotion but was not surprised by the incident. In the Mission I see blood all the time and things always get worse during the summertime, he said as he remembered a shootings that took place near his home last summer and killed two teenagers.

Police said the victim did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

Earlier this month Mission Loc@l reported that a man was kidnapped and robbed at 3 a.m. after leaving a bar on the 3100 block of Mission Street between Cesar Chavez and Precita streets. Suspects stole his wallet and phone, and then dropped him off a few blocks away.

An Hispanic female called police at 1:25 a.m. on Wednesday and reported that two males used a taser against her while and attempted to force her into a van according to police reports.

The woman told police that she was walking on a sidewalk near 17th St. and Alabama when the men pulled up. One man began to ask her for directions while the other got out of the vehicle and attacked her. When the woman fell to the ground the suspects fled.

Police said resident should be aware of their surroundings and take extra precautions when walking in isolated areas at night.
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