SFPD: Two suspects get away after Castro bar break-in

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday October 3, 2023
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San Francisco police are investigating an attempted break-in at the Lookout bar in the Castro neighborhood. Photo: John Ferrannini
San Francisco police are investigating an attempted break-in at the Lookout bar in the Castro neighborhood. Photo: John Ferrannini

Two suspects got away after allegedly breaking into the Lookout bar in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro neighborhood. But they "appeared to be unsuccessful" at actually robbing the business, police told the Bay Area Reporter.

The news comes as police are also looking into robberies at a South of Market LGBTQ bar and a donut shop just a few minutes' drive from the Lookout.

San Francisco police responded to the alleged burglary at the Lookout at 3:26 a.m. September 29.

"Upon arrival, officers observed two unknown suspects exit the business and get into an SUV," San Francisco Police Officer Gonee Sepulveda stated Monday. "Officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop of the vehicle, but it fled the area. Officers conducted a walkthrough of the business and were able to determine that there were no victims or suspects inside of the business. A responsible party for the business was not available at that time to make a police report."

Later that day, officers from SFPD's Park Station followed up by returning to the business.

"The victim stated that the suspects attempted to steal items from inside the business but appeared to be unsuccessful," Sepulveda stated. "Officers documented evidence at the scene and provided the victim with a police report."

Lookout owner Chris Hastings told the B.A.R. that the burglary was the morning the bar was celebrating its 16th anniversary with a huge party.

"We've had thefts before," he said, but "this was definitely the most brazen" attempt.

Hastings said he spoke to the police afterward; the burglars were "very effective," used masks, hoodies, gloves, and "wasted no time — they went right for the safe."

"We were very fortunate a Castro resident saw them outside and they called the police," Hastings said. "It's concerning that this is starting to become more common."

Days later, on Monday, October 2, there was an armed robbery at a Happy Donuts in Noe Valley. Two alleged robbers stole $1,500 from the 24-hour shop, according to KRON-TV. Police are still investigating.

The Lone Star Saloon was broken into last month. Photo: From Bruce Jennison's Facebook page  

Robbers struck the Lone Star Saloon, a bar in the SOMA neighborhood, on September 11, according to a Facebook post by co-owner Bruce Jennison, which shows pictures of emptied cash registers and rows of missing liquor bottles. Jennison told the San Francisco Standard that footage showed two men picked the bar's lock and one entered.

When asked if the burglaries are believed to be related, Sepulveda told the B.A.R. October 3 that "part of any investigation is trying to determine if incidents are connected or part of a series. It is too early in the investigation(s) to determine what connections, if any, the robberies may have."

District 8's public safety liaison Dave Burke said he was "not qualified" to answer if they are related.

"I really don't know," he said.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district encompasses both businesses, stated on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the robbery at the cash-only donut shop, "This is horrible news. The incident is under active investigation & our office is in close communication" with the SFPD's Mission Station.

He stated to the B.A.R. that "both incidents are alarming, and all the more so because they are not uncommon."

"Small businesses across San Francisco are experiencing such break-ins and attempted break-ins with troubling frequency," he continued.

Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to contact the SFPD at 415-575-4444, or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Updated, 10/3/23: This article has been updated with comments from the Lookout owner.

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