SF’s Famous Turtle Tower Restaurant Robbed During the Day, Police Respond 2 Hours Later

turtle tower

A popular Vietnamese restaurant called Turtle Tower was “robbed in broad daylight” on Tuesday 1:30 p.m. in Tenderloin, San Francisco.

Like other struggling restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, Turtle Tower is open for contactless service. What was thought to be a customer coming in for a meal resulted in a man who went straight for the tip jar, stole all the cash inside and threatened its owner before running from the scene.

Police were slow to respond, according to its owner Thao Pham. She waited over two hours for an SFPD officer who suggested that she “should have locked the restaurant’s doors.”

“It was very insulting to have to wait so long for any response,” Pham told Hoodline.

The media company said in addition to the “insensitive” attitude the officer showed Pham, “The incident was also not included in the SFPD’s daily summary of crimes provided to the media.”

The restaurant owner recognizes the man as a resident occupying a space in the tent encampment close to the alley by Willow Street.

Nearby the Turtle Tower’s 645 Larkin St. location, is a large homeless problem that Pham is no stranger to. Within the restauranteur’s 20-year career, this is the worst she’s ever seen it.

Pham criticized the lack of care saying, “Where are our resources?”

“There is no accountability or authority [in Tenderloin],” she continued. “I want to be a part of this community and come out of this on the other side, but it is so, so hard. There needs to be a change.”

NextShark reached out to the SFPD where Officer Robert Rueca released the following statement:

“On 5/19/20 at approximately 1:24 PM a victim called to report a theft which occurred at a restaurant located on the 600 block of Larkin Street. At approximately 3:28 PM officers arrived on scene and met with the victim that stated a male subject entered the restaurant and stole cash out of the tip jar and fled the scene. An article about this incident reported this incident as a robbery. The information given to us was that this was a petty theft and not a robbery. The determination as a reported theft classified this incident as a ‘B priority’ call rather than an ‘A priority’ call that changes our response to a non-emergency. Tenderloin Police Station is following up on the incident and will update us on any significant developments with the investigation.”

Feature Image via @turtletowersf (left), Specialty Food Association (right)

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