A brazen car theft in San Francisco last week, which went viral on Twitter after bystanders captured the crime on video, was the victim of a Jewish summer camp group visiting the Chicago area .
About $10,000 worth of clothing, cameras and electronics (along with valuables like passports) were stolen on July 14 from campers and chaperones with the Chicago Jewish Teens, the group’s leader says , Rabbi Schneur Zalman Notik, to ABC7 news. Based in Northbrook, a suburb of Chicago, and affiliated with the Chabad movement, the camp has brought more than 20 teenagers to San Francisco.
“We came back to our vehicles and suddenly instead of unity and love and that feeling of camaraderie; we saw the polar opposite, destruction and another loss in our possessions,” Notik told ABC. The group was riding their bicycles across the Golden Gate Bridge when the crime occurred.
Video of the robbery went viral after being reposted by the very popular Libs of TikTok Twitter account, shows three people rummaging through the two smashed windows of a pickup truck, pulling bags from the pickup truck and loading them into an idling Buick sedan. The thieves break a third window, lift a backpack, then jump in the car and drive away.
Just another typical day in San Francisco pic.twitter.com/ac4dynZOQq
— TikTok Libs (@libsoftiktok) July 17, 2022
The crime happened in broad daylight next to Ghirardelli Square, a major tourist attraction near San Francisco‘s Fisherman’s Wharf. The San Francisco Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from J.
Online, many saw the video as evidence of lax law enforcement in San Francisco, which critics blame on the city’s progressive politics.
“Just another typical day in San Francisco,” Libs of TikTok, which has gained notoriety for confusing progressives on social media and has been criticized for homophobia and transphobia, tweeted with the video. The account has 1.3 million followers.
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Conservative website Daily Caller called the crime “the chilliest smash and grab ever”.
Chicago Jewish Teens is an outdoor camp affiliated with Camp Gan Israel, the Chabad network of Jewish summer camps established in the 1950s with the support of Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. In addition to Illinois-based outings for hiking and rafting, Chicago Jewish Teens campers take out-of-state “excursions” and trips. A week after the incident, Notik was in Alaska, where he recorded the interview with ABC.
The group of campers included teenagers from Europe, Notik said, including the UK, Ireland and Ukraine. Some could not afford the trip and were on scholarships.
The rabbi said he hoped the insurance would partially cover the cost of stolen goods; some items had been salvaged from a nearby park. He asked people interested in supporting the program to visit the Chicago Jewish Teens website.
Notik chose to use the incident as a learning opportunity.
“It reinforced some of the lessons learned about the power of unity, the power of hope,” he said in the ABC interview, adding, “Thank you for the kind people in San Francisco and really, nice people everywhere. We have received an outpouring of love and support for our boys and for all that we do in our common mission, it has truly been wonderful.