An alleged cat burglar who became stuck in a tree on a steep Telegraph Hill cliffside had pretty much every government agency in The City trying to coax him down Wednesday.
While fleeing a building manager who had confronted him in an apartment complex on Kearny Street on Tuesday night, cops said the now-infamous transient Dan hopped a railing on Lombard Street and was apparently unaware that a steep 200-foot cliff was on the other side.
He ended up on the hillside, which could not be safely accessed by rescue crews. And he refused countless pleas from cops to come down.
That led to an epic standoff that involved far more government agencies and public attention than is usual for a nonviolent home burglary investigation.
With the man stuck on the cliff, an apartment was dusted for fingerprints and officers canvassed the neighborhood, asking if anyone had been burglarized. One woman said “maybe one piece of jewelry was stolen.”
Police described the response as a rescue mission rather than a manhunt.
“We offered to help,” Officer Albie Esparza said. “He was yelling at us to leave.”
The Fire Department sent in a ladder truck and shone a floodlight on the hillside overnight. A California Highway Patrol helicopter assisted, and U.S. Park Police planned to send up dogs until that was deemed unsafe.
A city negotiator was sent in to attempt to talk down the suspect, but the man wouldn’t budge, police said.
Police also used thermal imaging technology to track Dan, who was hidden under brush.
The incident unfolded when the manager of 1730 Kearny St. called police about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday saying an intruder had just jumped off the cliff, police said. A resident had called the manager about the suspect, who she saw trying to break into an apartment through a balcony door.
The manager confronted the man, who claimed he had the wrong apartment. The manager asked the man to drop a knapsack he was carrying and leave, believing it was filled with loot. The suspect then fled, jumping over a railing and getting stuck on the cliff, police said.
While the suspect was stuck on a dangerously steep slope, surrounded by thorny bushes and thick shrubbery, he was situated on a relatively roomy patch of hillside, police Cmdr. Richard Correia said, and does not appear to be injured.
Authorities were diligently reviewing “the amount of resources we’re willing to spend on this,” Lt. Liam Frost said.
Neighbors were baffled by Dan’s boldness.
One 25-year building resident who wished to remain anonymous said the amount of police around the building “made [her] feel safe,” but was “surprised why there were so many if he just burglarized something.”
It wasn’t the first time a criminal suspect leaped off a cliff in The City. In September 2008, a man who might have been breaking into vehicles plunged to his death in the same neighborhood after leaping over a 3-foot wall while running from police.
SF Examiner Staff Writer Andrea Koskey contributed to this report.