San Francisco police caught a man red-handed sawing off a catalytic converter from a stolen car — and let him go, even helping him find the bus stop, according to shocked eyewitnesses who said the experience left them feeling unsafe in the city.

Lauren Lindsay and Morgan Heller, roommates who live in the city’s Richmond district, heard the noise of a man using power tools to cut the converter from the car — at 3 a.m. Catalytic converters are popular targets for thieves because they include trace amounts of precious metals, such as platinum, that help reduce the toxicity of emissions from combustion engines.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

[Officers] responded to a 911 call about a man cutting a catalytic converter from the underbelly of a car. The officers arrived to find the alleged thief at the scene of the crime, learned he was on probation for a previous theft and then let him walk off, car jack in hand — even giving him directions to the nearest bus stop.

Roommates Lauren Lindsay and Morgan Heller witnessed the incident and bizarre police response from their apartment at 24th Avenue and Anza Street in the Richmond neighborhood and were left dumbstruck. They’d done everything right: called the cops, kept their eyes on the person the entire time, answered all the officers’ questions and agreed to participate in the case.

“Even if you package it all together with a bow on top, it still doesn’t go anywhere,” said Lindsay, 26. “It makes you feel like the police don’t really care. It makes you feel helpless.”

Crime has risen in major cities across the United States, thanks in partly to the Black Lives Matter and “defund the police” movements, as well as left-wing prosecutors who have often benefited from lavish spending by billionaire George Soros.

But San Francisco is almost in a class of its own. A statewide prison reform referendum, Proposition 47 in 2014, reduced sentences for many crimes, allowing thieves to escape jail time for thefts less than $950. And left-wing district attorney George Gascón, who was appointed after Kamala Harris left for the Senate, oversaw “reforms” that saw petty crime rise.

Gascón is now the district attorney of Los Angeles County, where he narrowly avoided a recall election this week after officials eliminated nearly 200,000 of the signatures on petitions that attempted to bring a recall question to the voters.

San Francisco voters recalled district attorney Chesa Boudin in June; Mayor London Breed has promised to crack down on crime; but the problem has become almost intractable, given large numbers of homeless people still living on the streets.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Photo: file