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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Charlie Jones

Truth behind 'lawless' San Francisco murdered tech star Bob Lee feared was 'deteriorating'

The fatal stabbing of beloved tech figure Bob Lee has thrust the question of crime in San Francisco into the spotlight.

According to the victim's friend, Lee had moved out of the Californian city because he feared it was "deteriorating".

Mixed martial arts champion Jake Shields said: "He did comment on San Francisco deteriorating, which is why he had actually just relocated to Miami."

Months before he was killed Lee, 43, had sold his multi-million dollar home in the Bay Area.

His apparent view on the "deterioration" on San Francisco was shared by stars of the tech world.

Twitter boss Elon Musk wrote: “Many people I know have been severely assaulted. Violent crime in SF is horrific and even if attackers are caught, they are often released immediately".

Matt Ocko, a tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist in Palo Alto, California, tweeted his claim that the leaders of “lawless” San Francisco had Mr Lee’s “literal blood on their hands.”

Michael Arrington, the founder of the industry blog TechCrunch, added: "I hate what San Francisco has become."

But what is the truth behind the criticism of San Francisco?

Although statistics are little solace to grieving family and friends, overall crime is actually at a historic low in the West Coast city.

Homelessness has increased in San Francisco over the last ten years as it has across the US (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

But homelessness is on the rise in the city with encampments a common sight in the streets.

Between 2013 and 2022 the number of people homeless in the city rose from 7,008 to 7,754.

James King, a local criminal justice activist, told Jewish Currents last year: “There is not a crime spike happening, except in limited areas.

“But what is, I hope, peaking is frustration with a diminishing quality of life as a result of the pandemic.

Homeless tents and rough sleepers are seen by the Polk Street near the City Hall (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

"The pandemic revealed serious inequities in our society, as well as a lack of social safety net infrastructure to mitigate them.”

And it is suggested the perception of crime in the city is made worse by the visibility of problems like homelessness.

“That type of visibility causes genuine discomfort for people who have more resources,” Mr King continued.

Whatever the perception, San Francisco’s actual violent crime rate, which includes includes homicides, rapes, assaults and robberies., like in most cities, has been steadily declining over the past 30 years.

A homeless man is seen near the Ferry Building (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

In 2020 and 2021, when the Covid pandemic hit, this got to historic lows But since then, data from the San Francisco Police Department shows the violent crime rate slowly approached pre-pandemic levels.

Of the 23 largest urban areas in the US, San Francisco's violent crime ranked 14th lower than cities like Dallas and New York, but a little higher than Miami.

San Francisco is one of the beating hearts of the US tech industry (Getty Images)

When it came to murders, SF ranked lower than Miami.

But that makes little difference to Bob Lee.

Police were called by 43-year-old Mr Lee after being stabbed shortly before 2.30am on April 4 in the Rincon Hill neighbourhood.

The perception of crime in the city could be being made worse by the visibility of problems like homelessness (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

After calling the police and stumbling through the streets looking for help, he was rushed to hospital, but sadly succumbed to his injuries.

So far no arrests have been made but Jake Shields described it as a "random mugging and attack".

"So, I’m not sure why he’s even back there. I think he had a little business back in San Francisco for a couple of days," Mr Shields said.

He added: "The city – it’s had problems for a while."

He continued: "But it’s very clear to anyone that’s been there for a long time that it keeps getting worse.

"People talk and say they’re going to do things, but no one does anything."

In an update from the San Francisco Police Department, Police Chief Bill Scott said: “This investigation is still in the early stages. Because of this, we are not commenting on evidence, nor will we speculate on the circumstances surrounding this horrific crime.

"Although we will commit the necessary resources and personnel to this investigation, I want to assure everyone in San Francisco that our department is staffed and ready to respond to all calls for service."

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