Cliffhanger standoff in Telegraph Hill stretches through the day 

click to enlarge A burglary suspect leapt over a railing in Telegraph Hill on Tuesday night and ended up perched in a bush on the side of a cliff. - MIKE ALDAX/SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Aldax/SF Examiner
  • A burglary suspect leapt over a railing in Telegraph Hill on Tuesday night and ended up perched in a bush on the side of a cliff.

This police chase has been a real cliffhanger.

San Francisco cops have been dealing with a stubborn burglary suspect who has been trapped on a cliff-side on Telegraph Hill for more than 18 hours, refusing to come down.

While running from cops Tuesday night, the suspect ended up trapped and surrounded on a dangerous 200-foot cliff-side north of Coit Tower, hidden behind thick brush, San Francisco police Officer Albie Esparza said.

Police said it was too dangerous to send any crews onto the cliff.

At about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the manager of a nearby building called police about a suspicious man clutching some bags. He pointed the suspect out to cops. The suspect fled over a rail, apparently unaware that he would end up on a steep cliff-side. He hid behind “8-to10 feet of thick shrubbery” and refused to come out, Esparza said.

“We offered to help,” Esparza said. “He was yelling at us to leave.”

San Francisco police set up a perimeter, saying he has no where to go. A Fire Department floodlight shone on the hillside throughout the night. Police also had assistance from U.S. Park Police and a California Highway Patrol helicopter.

A negotiator tried to talk down the suspect, telling him that he needs to help police help him. But the man won’t budge, police said.

While he is stuck on a dangerously steep slope, surrounded by thorny bushes and other thick shrubbery, he is situated on a relatively roomy patch of hillside and can move around, police Cdr. Richard Correia said.

The man did not appear to be injured or in distress, Correia added.

A San Francisco fire truck on scene at Telegraph Hill was sent back to its station around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Police remained on scene in case he decided to come down.

Correia characterized the police activity as a rescue, not a manhunt, adding that the man is a suspect in a nonviolent crime.

Before the fire truck was sent back, authorities were “revisiting the situation every hour to see the amount of resources we're willing to spend on this," Lt. Liam Frost said.

A fire truck can respond in 3 minutes if he needs help coming down, Correia said.

Meanwhile, crime scene investigators dusted for fingerprints in an apartment that was burglarized at 1730 Telegraph Hill Tower.

Jon Golinger, president of the neighborhood group Telegraph Hill Dwellers, said there have been at least a half dozen burglaries in the past four months.

Neighbors were shocked at the boldness of the burglar.

"It was dark, and he just jumped over the rail," said one neighbor who only wanted to be known as Jack.

In September 2008, a man plunged to his death in the same neighborhood after leaping over a 3-foot wall while running from police.

The 38-year-old Daly City man fell 200 feet down a cliff at the end of Alta Street after being chased. The police responded in that case to calls of an auto break-in and spotted the suspect exiting an Audi.

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