Looted Tenderloin jazz club, owners disappointed with SFPD response

Surveillance video shows how thieves took their time stealing from a San Francisco Tenderloin jazz club early Tuesday after a man smashed the club’s front door glass with a skateboard. It is also captured on video.

San Francisco Homeowners Black cat say they are disappointed with the police response. The theft was just one of two crimes committed at the club’s premises at 400 Eddy Street within hours. Ironically, the SFPD Tenderloin station is about a block across the street.

Adam Chapman, the club’s operations manager, said he was disappointed with what happened and the police response. He said it started as vandalism and ended with what looked like a “free-for-all” of people coming and going, taking what they wanted.

The supper club’s live music didn’t miss a beat on Friday night, despite surviving an 18-month pandemic shutdown, and now vandalism and burglary.

“It’s just a battle to keep our business alive,” Chapman said. The man seen on video breaking the front door fled. It happened around 1:15 a.m. Shortly after people started robbing the club.

The video captures the moment SFPD officers arrive. One of them says “SFPD. Get your hands out in the air”, as he stands outside the front door.

The police arrive just over an hour after the glass was smashed. They were alerted by a witness. The San Francisco Fire Department said it responded to the SFPD’s request as a courtesy. Firefighters temporarily covered the broken front door.

Police said they made several attempts to contact a company representative, but were unsuccessful.

After the police and fire department left, people can be seen inside the club stealing again.

“It’s not like they have to secure it, but at least not coming back and checking again is very disheartening,” Chapman said. He said more than 20 people robbed the club for hours until an employee came at 7 a.m. to find broken glass and empty shelves.

“I feel a little violated, don’t I? It’s like your place, your space, it’s like my second home. I’m here all the time,” Chapman said.

Black Cat, living its proverbial nine lives, didn’t close a day despite what happened. There is no damage inside the club.

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“It would have been catastrophic. We have a lot of really cool stuff here. You know, they could have broken things, they could have spray painted. Really, it was just a cash grab,” said Chapman. He said the stolen items include; alcohol, food, equipment and musical instruments. The estimated loss is $25,000 to $50,000.

Chapman said it was important for this club to thrive in the Tenderloin as a space for young jazz musicians.

“After something like this happened at the Black Cat, it’s not going to happen again. I can’t see it. I think they’ll probably, you know, find ways to make sure something like this doesn’t not happen again,” said Kassa Overall. He’s a drummer and vocalist who performs at the club all weekend.

Chapman said the club is adding additional security measures. The SFPD said it is currently working on creating a policy to better deal with these types of incidents.

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