San Francisco Chinatown merchants and shoppers should be wary of scam artists, extortionists and other criminals during the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, city officials said today.
The Chinese New Year, also known as the lunar new year, starts on Jan. 23 and the holiday festivities are expected to attract many celebrants — and potentially criminals–to the Chinatown neighborhood, Mayor Ed Lee said.
Lee said in the past, the neighborhood dealt with criminals who would come and hassle business owners into giving them money.
“It’s a practice that’s not acceptable,” he said. “We want to make sure the lunar new year festivities are enjoyed by everyone to the fullest.”
Police Chief Greg Suhr said he has been told that the upcoming Year of the Dragon is “the luckiest year” in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle, and said he hoped this year continues a downward trend in crime in the Chinatown neighborhood.
District Attorney George Gascon encouraged residents and merchants to report any crimes to authorities, and said his office holds weekly office hours in Chinatown.
People can go to talk to prosecutors or victim services officials from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday at the Donaldina Cameron House at 920 Sacramento St., Gascon said.
A group of the city officials, including Lee, Suhr, Gascon, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Supervisor Eric Mar, went up and down Grant Street in Chinatown following this afternoon’s news conference to hand out fliers to business owners.
Anyone who witnesses a crime in progress should call 911, while non-emergency calls should be made to the Police Department at (415) 553-0123.
The department has many multilingual speakers for people who do not speak English, police said.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News