Suspect in 1st Castro Theatre burglary accused of 2nd break-in

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Monday April 4, 2022
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San Francisco police said that a suspect from a March 29 break-in at the Castro Theatre was arrested April 1 after allegedly burglarized it again. Photo: Scott Wazlowski
San Francisco police said that a suspect from a March 29 break-in at the Castro Theatre was arrested April 1 after allegedly burglarized it again. Photo: Scott Wazlowski

In an encore performance, a man arrested for suspicion of breaking into the Castro Theatre March 29 was arrested again, April 1, for allegedly breaking into the historic movie palace days later, authorities said.

Gary Marx, 38, was taken into custody just before 5 p.m. Friday, a normally busy time in the Castro, after police were "flagged down at the scene by a witness who pointed out the male who was trying to break in," according to a news release from the San Francisco Police Department.

Marx was one of three men arrested earlier in the week for allegedly breaking into the historic cinema. Along with Nicholas Degrego, 25, and Jason Kilbourne, 32, Marx was apprehended inside the cinema March 29 after one of them was spotted by SFPD officers on routine patrol around 6:30 a.m. Kilbourne is still being held on a $30,000 bond and is next expected to appear in court April 5.

Degrego was released into assertive case management shortly after his arrest. Marx was released into assertive case management in both incidents, said Robyn Burke, a spokesperson with the San Francisco District Attorney's office. He is expected to face arraignment on April 5, as well, for his earlier arrest.

Marx is being charged with second-degree burglary, possession of burglary tools, and vandalism of more than $400, according to Burke. Marx has not yet been assigned an attorney, according to the San Francisco Public Defender's office.

The cost of damages to the theater from the first break-in is $30,000, said Mary Conde, vice president of Another Planet Entertainment, which recently took over management of the theater. The costs for the second, most recent break-in is $15,000, she stated.

In a March 30 tweet gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro, lauded San Francisco Police Officer Kathryn Winters for noticing that signs were missing and there was broken glass the day before, which led to the initial arrest of Marx and the two other suspects.

"Thanks to Officer Winters' sharp eye, further damage was averted, and the Theatre was quickly repaired," wrote Mandelman.

The repeat break-ins have left management of APE frustrated and considering more drastic measures to protect the venue.

"This is both heartbreaking and galling," said Conde in a statement from the company. "Why this individual was allowed on the streets again is beyond my understanding and should be unacceptable. We are so grateful to the San Francisco police for their continued vigilance and for again arresting this person. However, our system is failing us."

Throughout the years, there have also been numerous attempts to break into the century-old theater's distinctive tiled ticket booth with its beautiful leaded windows, as the Bay Area Reporter noted in a recent article on vandalism in the Castro. The cost for repairing the glass is quite high, the B.A.R. was told by APE project manager Margaret Casey. As a result, APE management is now considering the installation of a gate over the open entryway.

"We have tried to avoid installing a metal security gate across the front of the Castro's iconic entrance, but I don't believe we are now left with any choice," said Conde. The installation of such a gate would be expensive, she said.

It would also require, of course, permits from the city.

"Any permanent exterior changes to the Castro Theatre would require a Certificate of Appropriateness," said Richard Sucre, Historic Preservation Commission deputy director. "We have some scopes of work that can be handled administratively by our qualified preservation staff, and other scopes which may require a full hearing in front of the Historic Preservation Commission."

Updated, 4/8/22: An earlier version of this article stated that suspect Gary Marx was being represented by the SF Public Defender's office. He is not and has not yet been assigned an attorney.

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