Anxious San Francisco Residents Taking Safety into Their Own Hands with Self-Defense Courses, High-Tech Security

Facebook/Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy - San Mateo
Facebook/Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy - San Mateo

Crime has become front and center for people who live in San Francisco, California, and now people are taking their safety into their own hands by enrolling in self-defense courses and installing high-tech security systems in their homes.

According to an August, 2021, report published on the Safewise home security website, San Francisco comes in 6th in the Top 10 most dangerous cities in America, with two other California cities making the list — Stockton came in 9th and Bakersfield 10th.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the development:

With San Francisco mired in an intensifying debate over crime and public safety, the lessons taught by instructors like Chow are in greater demand. Several operators of self-defense schools and people who sell security equipment said they are seeing an uptick in business.

San Francisco — which has long struggled with a high rate of theft crimes — has not experienced major increases in violent crime this year, according to police figures, but more burglaries, robberies and other crimes are being captured on videos that spread virally on social media, and the city has been consumed by the war of words over progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin and his efforts to reduce incarceration in favor of treatment and rehabilitation.

Tat Wong academy, which has more than 450 students, has seen its new student count double in the last year, with more than 100 students enrolling in 2021 so far. Many of those new students are women and older adults who say they’ve come to the studio for reasons other than just fitness. Martial arts center United Studios of Self Defense, located in Lower Pacific Heights, has seen an increase of students in the last year — from 60 to around 85, according to Principal John Collins. He added that around 70 percent of his new students have shared they don’t feel safe walking on the streets.

“This was something I wanted to do in light of recent events,” said Dorothy Wong, 35, referring to attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the city over the summer.

“The hate, especially towards elderly, is super concerning,” Wong said. “So part of that was me trying to be prepared in case I needed to defend my family.”

“There has been a big shift,” martial arts instructor Zelig said. “People are coming here to literally defend themselves. The urgency for that has definitely increased more than before.”

“So far this year, assaults have risen slightly compared to 2020, with 165 more incidents reported to date, compared to the same period a year ago,” the Chronicle reported. “There were four more homicides in San Francisco through Nov. 14 compared to the same period a year earlier and 33 fewer reported rapes.”

The news outlets reported that people are also flocking to hardware stories to secure their homes.

 “People are freaking out,” Nestor Guardado, shop manager at Lock World, said. 

Guardado said he has seen a 25 to 40 percent increase in business over the last year or about 150 new customers visiting his business.

Ramon Nia, owner of the San Francisco retailer Yes Locksmith said his sales have tripled over the past year and that he’s had hundreds more safety related inquiries.

“When you have an alarm sticker on your house you’re sending a message that you’re kind of security-conscious,” said Brian Jones, an employee at Rhinoceros Security, who was himself the victim of an attempted break-in while he as eating dinner.

“It leaves you with such a weird feeling afterwards that you can understand,” Jones said. “Almost immediately after something like that, people get alarm systems. They’re looking for anything.”

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