When it comes to reporting crime, the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) safety mantra is: “If you see something, say something.” To help community members determine the best way to file a police report, SF SAFE gathered the 411 from our SFPD partners to create an easy guide.
When it comes to properly filing a police report, the first step is considering the crime or issue at hand so that you can determine the best way to contact the police.
First off, let’s consider the most urgent type of police report that someone might file: Emergencies. The SFPD recommends asking yourself these questions to evaluate whether or not your issue qualifies as an emergency: Is this an emergency or is there an immediate threat to you or others? Is the crime in progress or just occurred within the last 2-3 minutes? Did the incident just occur or the suspect has a felony warrant and you know where the suspect is? Can you identify the suspect or were you a witness to a car break in? And, was there a weapon involved? If you answered “yes” to any of the aforementioned questions, you should dial 911 immediately.
If your issue does not qualify as an emergency—i.e., you answered “no” to the above questions—the SFPD suggests filing an online police report; it’s the most expedient way to receive a report filed for a police officer to review. Another great part about filing online? Online police reports can be filed in a variety of languages including English, Spanish and Chinese, so language need not be a barrier.
Per the SFPD, here’s a rundown of the types of crime reports that can be filed online for crimes that occurred anywhere in the City and County of San Francisco: Harassing phone calls; lost property; theft (no illegal entry or contact by the thief); vandalism/graffiti; vehicle burglary; and vehicle tampering. To file online in English, click online Police Report.
Naturally, you also always have the option of making a police report in person or by calling the non-emergency line at 415-553-0123 to have an officer respond to you. To report a crime in person, one option is to visit the nearest SFPD to file a report.
Another option for filing a police report is by calling the 311 Customer Service Center, which will route you to the appropriate servicing agency. An added bonus is that the staff can assist callers in 175-plus languages! Graffiti (not in progress), abandoned vehicles and encampments or homeless concerns, as well as lost or stolen passports, consular ID cards, social security cards, firearms, license plates or motor vehicles can all be reported by calling 311.
Does your report concern a crime that occurred in an area outside of the City and County of San Francisco’s jurisdiction? If so, do not file a report online—contact the appropriate agency directly and/or click for more info.
Per the SFPD, community members can also file a supplemental report online to report additional property losses or to add information about property previously reported lost or stolen. Click to learn more about when to file this type of report, as well as for other helpful info relevant to filing police reports in general.