SAN FRANCISCO – City employees in San Francisco assigned to enforcing local ordinances related to street vending regulations have received so many death threats and subjected to violence that they’ve been issued body armor, according to reports.
Inspectors with the Department of Public Works who check food cart vendors and others for compliance with local laws have been subjected to an increased number of threats and assaults, prompting the safety measure, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson with DPW, told the Chronicle that staff members have been “pushed, bumped, [had] items thrown at them.”
“The verbal attacks remain frequent,” Gordon said. She added that some of the inspectors have been verbally threatened as well as battered.
As a result, the city has issued bulletproof vests to the regulatory employees.
The city has cracked down on street vendors after the fencing of stolen property has become a regular occurrence in the busy downtown marketplace near UN Plaza and the areas around Mission and Market streets.
Meanwhile, sources told the New York Post that some of the street vendors and fencers in the drug infested area are “smash-and-grabbers” who engage in grand theft and robberies. The group of thieves steal everything from medication to toiletries, soaps and shampoos at retailers like Walgreens. Afterward, they turn around and sell the stolen property for a quick buck on Market Street and other areas where homelessness and drug use is rampant.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott commented on the growing number of attacks and assaults on the city inspectors.
“They have been subject to attacks, verbal and physical assaults,” Scott told ABC7 KGO. “So it really makes it difficult to do their jobs.”