A news crew was robbed while covering the APEC summit that San Francisco hopes will make it look safe and clean again
- San Francisco hopes the APEC summit will help reshape its reputation on safety and cleanliness.
- But the week's off to a rough start after a Czech news team covering the summit was robbed on Sunday.
A Czech journalist and his camera crew were robbed on Sunday while in San Francisco to cover the APEC summit — a major event that local officials hope will help restore the Golden City's image.
Bohumil Vostal, who works for Czech outlet CT24, was filming shots with his crew at the City Lights bookstore in the early evening when three masked robbers appeared, he told The San Francisco Chronicle.
"They were heading at my camera man, aiming a gun at his stomach, and one at my head," Vostal told the outlet.
The trio stole $18,000 worth of equipment, along with his crew's entire day of footage, Vostal said, per The Chronicle.
The robbery happened around two miles from San Francisco's downtown, Bloomberg reported, citing police.
"The suspects demanded their production equipment and the victims complied. The suspects then entered their vehicle and fled the scene," the San Francisco Police Department told the outlet.
Vostal said his team raced to buy new cables and lights from a local Best Buy and used his personal camera to film new footage for the day, per The Chronicle.
The robbery comes as San Francisco launched an urgent, all-out cleanup of the city's downtown core for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which began on Saturday.
Workers have been clearing trash, scrubbing graffiti, and pressure-washing streets, while scores of orange-vested city "ambassadors" guide people through the busiest parts of town.
Officials see the summit — the city' biggest conference since 1945 — as a crucial opportunity for its 20,000-odd visitors to see a renewed San Francisco, which has been beset by increasingly visible homelessness, open-air drug abuse, and small-time crime.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said on Monday evening that she met with Vostal and his crew after they were robbed.
"They still are happy to be here, they're continuing with their work," Breed told KCBS Radio.
Breed said Vostal and his team have loaned equipment from local media outlets, and that police are investigating the robbery.
"Unfortunately, San Francisco is a major city and unfortunately situations like this could occur," she added.
A spokesperson for Breed's office told Insider in a statement that the mayor's team is in contact with Vostal and his crew, and is working to ensure their safety for the rest of their stay.
"SFPD is actively investigating this case," the spokesperson said. "And we know that when an arrest is made our District Attorney has taken a strong position of aggressively prosecuting crimes like these.
Vostal told The Chronicle that nearby locals were apologetic for his experience.
"All the people of San Francisco are almost blaming themselves, like they are so sorry for something they didn't do," he said, per the outlet.
The SFPD press office and Vostal did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.
November 14, 2023: This story was updated to reflect comment from the San Francisco Mayor's Office.
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