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Archive for November, 2009

Auto break-ins and burglaries have been a widespread problem for years all over San Francisco, including the Richmond.

Although this problem is by no means unique to the Richmond, it remains an especially widespread problem in the neighborhood with more than 700 reported auto break-ins year-to-date, according to the SFPD at the Richmond Station.

I spoke with the head of the Richmond Station, Captain Richard Corriea, recently to find out more about why this crime is such a problem in a neighborhood that is generally thought of to have relatively little crime.

He estimated that every month there are 40-60 auto break-ins and burglaries reported to police, but was quick to add that the true number was likely much higher, saying the crime was “probably significantly under reported.”

Captain Corriea said that many of the individuals who commit these crimes are repeat offenders, the so-called “career criminals” who can be in and out of a car in under a minute, often in broad daylight.

He emphasized that the solution was the in the public’s hands as much as the police’s. The police will continue to do their part, he said, but the public needs to take the economic incentive out of the crime.

“We all have something we can do here,” he said.

Items most often stolen from cars include laptops, luggage and GPS systems.

Captain Corriea offered these tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of one of these crimes:

  • Remove all visible property from your car – even if it something as inconsequential as some loose change, a pack of cigarettes or an old paper bag because “There will be someone who wants to see what’s in there.”
  • If you must leave something in your trunk (and it’s better not to, he said) put it in your trunk before you arrive at your destination. He also recommends disabling your interior trunk release.
  • Pay attention to where you park: Park in well-lit areas with lots of foot traffic and avoid areas with houses and businesses on only one side of the street such as Fulton St.
  • Manage your risk: use a car alarm if you have one or devices that deter burglars such as “the club”
  • If you do become a victim of one of these crimes, report it to the police right away, many people think it won’t make a difference since these people rarely get caught but it does. Reporting break-ins to the police provides them with important information that helps them track not only the crimes but the people who commit them. And the more information they have the better the chance of catching the bad guy.
See www.sfsafe.org for more information and safety tips.

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The Pho Challenge!

Who doesn’t love a good bowl of pho? Really, there’s nothing better on a cold day. And there is no shortage of cold days in the Richmond, or pho restaurants. Coincidence? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
What I do know is that I love eating Pho. If you have never tried it you are missing out. Seriously, I can’t stress it enough. And while I could probably write a whole blog devoted entirely to the subject of Pho ( I think I would call it Pho Fun or Pho the Love of Pho) this is a blog about the Richmond District so I will settle for one post devoted to my favorite Vietnamese noodle soup. For now, anyway.
So on a recent afternoon I decided to visit Pho Garden on Clement Street. Why the Pho Garden?Well, not only did they have good reviews on Yelp but they offer something that no other Richmond pho establishment offers. The Pho Garden Challenge. Sounds dramatic doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

One enormous bowl of pho containing 2 lbs. of noodles and 2 lbs. of meat. If you can finish it within an hour it’s free and your picture goes on their own wall of fame. I knew I had to witness this firsthand. But I also knew I would need help. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I was not brave enough to attempt the Pho Garden Challenge.
My friend Eyal on the other hand is much braver than I am and loves pho just as much as I do, maybe even more. And he agreed to take on the pho!
We arrived to a packed Pho Garden and luckily we were able to snag one of the few empty tables. Ordering didn’t take long either. We want pho of course (despite the name Pho Garden has a pretty extensive menu). Eyal proudly informed our waitress that he wanted to do the challenge. She gave a knowing smile and brought him the waiver. Yes, this challenge is so epic they make you sign a waiver first.
A short wait later and steaming bowls of pho arrived at our table. And for a moment I was speechless. I had seen the giant bowls- but 4 lbs. of pho up close is something else.
Eyal, however, was unfazed.
“I was stoked,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to start.”
For a little comparison, here’s a shot of my normal-sized bowl. By the way, I got the curry chicken pho and it was delicious!
Unfortunately, it was soon apparent that it takes a lot more than confidence and a love of noodles to eat 4 lbs. of pho. Only 12 minutes in and Eyal was literally sweating. I tried to be encouraging but I could tell the end was near.
By the time the timer had gone down to 30 minutes we knew the pho had won despite Eyal’s best efforts.
When he began to look like this, we summoned our waitress and admitted that he had been defeated. She smiled and brought us this.
I think she knew all along who would win this challenge.
I asked her out of all the people who attempt it (there were 6 others I witnessed just in our time there) how many people actually finish all the pho.
“About ten percent,” she said.
Eyal was still optimistic though. “Had they given me a day instead of an hour I could have completed the challenge no problem,” he said.
If only.
They did let him keep his leftovers though.
They filled up three large take-out containers which he is still finishing rumor has it. Pho for a week, for only $22. Sounds like a good deal to me!

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