It’s the sentimental things that people absolutely want to find again: a children’s notebook, a wooden cross, an army backpack that has survived two Iraq tours.

These include the possessions that Mark Dietrich has salvaged from curbs here in recent months, hastily discarded evidence of the break-ins and petty thefts that have become a characteristic of everyday life In the city.

Dietrich is one of a growing group of local activists who say such crimes have gotten out of hand in San Francisco.

“We were all wondering, is it time to go?” He said. “A lot of people just said, ‘I can’t stand this mess.'”

Unlike almost every other major US city, San Francisco did not see a significant increase in homicides during the pandemic. Instead, it is in the grip of another type of crime wave.

With surveillance cameras everywhere Social media has exploded with videos of young men brazenly carrying their backpacks with …



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