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‘Welcome to the hellscape that is San Fran’: Tourist loses everything in just four minutes after rental car break-in

Kat's story is as much a safety reminder as it is a scary tale.

Kat Shortsleeve describes becoming a victim of carjacking in San Francisco.
pics via TikTok

There’s something freeing about embarking on a great adventure; nothing feels as good as packing your bags, knowing you’re about to check out of your routine and move into a place where the air is new, the sun hits your skin differently, and possibilities seem endless.

TikTok is full of videos of travelers who share their journies with viewers worldwide, one of which is Kat Shortsleeve — and yes, that is her real name. Kat’s TikTok is full of some incredible travel tips for those in groups, but she also focuses on providing information to those brave enough to go solo. From trips on yachts to Napa Valley expeditions, Kat is living her best life and showing you that you can, too. Her recent video, however, is likely one of the most informative and important for anyone to watch.

On her recent trip through San Francisco before a move to Bali, Kat was the victim of car theft, and it changed everything for her.


watch until the end, its the worst part ugh 😭 can’t believe literally everything i had was stolen

♬ original sound – Kat Shortsleeve👕

Not only does she describe her frustration at becoming a victim of a crime when simply trying to grab a burger and fries before her big move, but you can tell that she’s shaken by the entire situation. Kat was, luckily, safely inside the restaurant when her car was broken into, but when a crime of any capacity is committed against you, it makes you feel unsafe everywhere.

Many comments echoed the same sentiment, and they’re not wrong. Carjacking in San Francisco is a significant problem. While some crime levels are declining, others — like property crime — seem to be on an uptick.

The San Francisco Chronicle actually has a website where you can track car thefts in the area, seeing how many happen in specific parts of the city, helping tourists and those who live there know which sites may be best to avoid.

Many major cities around the country have noted an uptick in car-related crimes; Axios says that a TikTok trend could be partially to blame. Kia and Hyundai vehicles were at the center of a movement that showed how “easy” it was to break into said brands of vehicles thanks to their USB chargers. Still, as the video shared by Kat shows, thieves aren’t afraid to smash a window if they genuinely want to get inside.

A news article from KTVU in August of 2023 shares the following quote from District Attorney Brooke Jenkins regarding an uptick in crime in San Francisco and what they plan to do about it:

“We have gotten to a point in San Francisco where people didn’t even fear being arrested. They didn’t think anything would happen once the DA’s office took over the case. They didn’t think there was going to be any meaningful consequence. They have to learn. We’re trying to reinstall in San Francisco, not only will you be caught, but when you’re prosecuted. There will be a consequence for that behavior.”

Since posting her original video, Kat has provided a much-needed update, going into more detail about what happened in the hours after the robbery and sharing the most important part: she’s now safe at home.

A woman saw four men in a jeep change plates upon arriving at the In-N-Out and changing them again before leaving; they also threw all of Kat’s belongings into their vehicle after smashing the windows in her rental car and sped away quickly.

Kat’s update says that the police were able to locate her suitcase on the highway quickly and found her clothes strewn all about. Upon Kat receiving the belongings, she discovered that a lot of what was found belonged to other people, that anything worth monetary value had been stolen, and that much of the contents had been run over or ruined.


Replying to @Manuela im honestly wondering what is being done about this in San Francisco. I can’t believe how little the cops can and will do despite this being grand theft #sanfrancisco #sanfranciscocrime #theft

♬ original sound – Kat Shortsleeve👕

The robbers are no strangers to pulling off stunts like this, and it’s evident that Kat wasn’t the only person they stole from that day. The comments on Kat’s video prove that it’s an ongoing problem in the area, and a rather scary one — if the suspects aren’t afraid to break into cars in crowded places in broad daylight, there’s probably not a lot they wouldn’t do to ensure they got away unscathed.

Those local to San Francisco urge visitors to avoid leaving anything in their car in the city at all, but if you’re traveling and need to grab a bite or waste a moment before going to the airport for your next flight, please go through the drive-thru at their urging.

While it’s not fair for the general public to have to adjust their way of thinking to simply not become a victim of a crime, it’s something that people are forced to adapt to, and we believe that says a lot about society in a really uncomfortable way.

About the author

Ashley Marie

Ashley Marie is a staff writer, beat leader, Disney fanatic, and Yellowstone expert. When she's not filling her friends in on all the entertainment news they can handle, she's drinking her go-to Starbucks order — a caramel macchiato, thank you — and wishing she was at Disney World or spending time at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. With a focus on positivity and kindness in journalism, Ashley has been writing for a decade and hopes to keep bringing you articles for decades to come.