How to Get The Cops To Care

If you aren’t at burning man or otherwise off the grid for labor day weekend, you’ve probably heard that the fruit folks lost another non-existent device, traced to Bernal Heights.

I’ll be the first to admit that I probably qualify as an Apple fan boy. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll also share that I was an intern for the company in college and worked for them during the years from 1996 – 2002. I also still have plenty of friends at the company, none of whom I’ve spoken to about this.

My concern about this isn’t that Apple lost a device that doesn’t exist. Hell, if it was news every time I couldn’t find my phone…

My problem is with the involvement of the San Francisco police department. The table below is from the Compstat crime statistic data for the Ingleside Branch of the SFPD. Here’s the PDF with the same information. For ease of reading, I’ve removed the weekly statistics to focus on the YTD numbers. As you can see below, so far in 2011 for the Ingleside police branch area of the city there have been 514 violent crimes reported, 1,715 property crimes reported, and only 200 arrests for violent crimes and 109 arrests for property crimes. By my math, that means a clearance rate of 39% for violent crimes and 6% for property crimes.

2011 Crime Statistics for the Ingleside Police Station in San Francisco, CA. Source: SFPD CompStat

The FBI reports that for crimes in the US, the clearance rate for violent crimes in 2010 was 47% and the clearance rate for property crimes was 19%. If you’ve got data for clearance rates for other urbans, I’d love to see it. Finding crime data was a little more challenging than I had anticipated… but, back to the fruit phone saga.

Based on a statement issued by the SFPD to the SF Appeal, three or four plain clothes SFPD officers accompanied private Apple security investigators to a home in Bernal Heights, and stood around outside while the private employees searched the home for the non-existent device. By non-existent, I mean that not only did they not find device, they were looking for a device that according to Apple doesn’t even exist. This latest statement is a revision to previous statements that SFPD had absolutely nothing to do with any of this at all.

So let’s review and see if this is a good use of San Francisco tax dollars:

This branch of the SFPD has a clearance rate of 6% for property crimes in 2011. And a clearance rate of only 39% for violent crimes. But the best use of three or four plain clothes officers was to have them stand around outside a home in Bernal Heights, enabling individuals employed by an incredibly profitable private corporation to search for a device that Apple never reported lost or stolen in the first place.

There are far more pressing crimes to be solved, crimes that actually involve violence against people, crimes that involve actual police reports, crimes that involve items that actually exist and were reported by average citizens that lack that deep pockets possessed by Apple. If you are a San Francisco resident you know how absolutely frustrating it can be to get the San Francisco police to take interest in property crimes that take place. Car broken into? You’ll be lucky if you so much as get a shrug, and are much more likely to get a lecture about being more careful next time.


Yet if you happen to work for Apple, all you have to do to get three or four plainclothes police to assist in the search for a non-existent device is to ask. Think Different indeed. 


Below are a few additional charts with additional crime statistics and information, again these are all for the Ingleside station.

More Ingleside Branch Crime Stats
Even More Ingleside Branch Crime Stats


  1. Matt Fuller, GRI says

    @Bryan – I feel pretty much the same way. I’m open to hearing an alternative view, but it seems like an inexcusable misallocation of limited resources…

    @ Njudah – Thanks for the kudos. We actually live a few blocks from each other, and I’ve always enjoyed your blog. Thanks for stopping by!

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