A Univision news crew was pepper-sprayed and robbed of one of their TV cameras in the Mission district on Monday, police said, the latest in a string of TV news crews being targeted for robbery.
The news crew was in their van in the 1100 block of Valencia Street about 6:23 p.m. when two boys ran up and pepper-sprayed into the van before grabbing the camera and fleeing the scene on foot, Officer Albie Esparza said. They reportedly fled westbound toward San Jose Avenue.
The suspects were described as being between 18 and 20 years old and no arrests have been made.
The victims in the news crew, three men, aged 28, 47 and 61, were treated at the scene for their injuries, Esparza said. Univision confirmed they had a crew that was robbed and that everyone was OK.
Every major television news station in the Bay Area has been victimized by robbery over the past year.
The most recent one in San Francisco before Monday's was in September, when KRON reporter Jeff Bush and a security guard were working on a story in The City's Bayview neighborhood.
In that incident, two men robbed Bush at gunpoint and after turning over his equipment, Bush took cover and his security guard opened fire on the thieves, hitting one of them. The two men were later arrested.
As to why television news cameras are targeted, Esparza said that "was the million dollar question." The cameras are worth anything from $20,000 to $45,000, he said, and they can't be just taken to a pawn shop or flea market.
"I don't think they know what they have," he said. He also said he'd like people to keep an eye out on Craigslist for people trying to sell such an item.
One local reporter has suggested that TV news cameras are popular with overseas porn producers who don't ask question about the equipment's origin.