Package thief fought off with bear spray

It seems that a woman got a serial package thief arrested today, after setting a trap and spraying him with bear spray. “Professional food pornographer” Sonya Yu tweeted the ordeal as it unfolded. Select tweets appear below in chronological order.

Noe Valley SF also has some video.

64 Responses to “Package thief fought off with bear spray”

  1. Bob Dole says:

    I congratulate her on her victory. But please, someone tell me exactly wtf is a ‘food pornographer’?

  2. Hmm says:

    Definitely blaming the (bear spray) victim this time…

  3. David Korman says:

    I the vigilante justice! We should collaborate and do a thorough photo essay of vigilantes and heroes in the Mission.

  4. Cameron says:

    I had 3 packages stolen from my house in the Mission. I’m so glad you got him!!!

  5. la dee da says:

    I would be SHOCKED if this went ANYWHERE with SF District Attorney office….but hey, you never know….stranger things have happened.

    I am sure a plea deal with some kind of probation will come out of it.

    • thanks says:

      i’d imagine the DA is probably more worried about some vigilante assaulting alleged criminals with bear spray than someone stealing a FedEx package . . .

    • paul says:

      Thanks, you’re wrong.

      La dee da- It is likely a plea deal will result as 95%+ of all criminal cases end in pleas. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What time he ends up getting will depend largely on his record. It’s not good that he had a knife on him and this will make the DA less willing to make a “lighter” deal. If we find out what the DA’s office actually charges, we would have a better idea of what the potential outcomes are.

  6. Tim says:

    He’ll probably try to sue her for using the bear spray on him.

  7. Jules says:

    Ah, that’s what was going on. Walked by when then had him sitting in the ambulance. Looked like he had pissed himself. Guess that was bear spray.

  8. nofishtoday says:

    that’s why I use a PO box

  9. Johnzane says:

    I wonder if this is the same guy who walked out with my DeWalt compound miter saw two Saturdays ago? He had the audacity to look straight into our security camera, police got a clear image of him. Tall black man.

  10. Erik says:

    Get your stuff delivered to work instead.

  11. Haggie says:

    If you leave your property and attack someone (even a criminal) it is assault.

    Two basic rules:
    1.) Stay on your property
    2.) Tell the police: “I was in fear for my life”

  12. tc says:

    She should take down those tweets. Otherwise, well done little ninja.

  13. GP says:

    Unfortunately given the history of this situation and the obvious fact that this guy is a sleazeball, Sonya may have some real problems.

    CA law limits pepper spray use for self defense to 2.5oz canisters. Most bear sprays are well over that (typically around 8 oz). Considering this fact, and the 8th tweet on this thread (she was above him on a balcony out of knife’s way), Sonya may be susceptible to legal issues.

    So yeah, Tim is probably right. He could most likely sue. Imagine a comment thread on this site if a cop used bear spray instead of pepper spray on a perp…

    • GG says:

      Also, most states (except maybe Texas!) discourage vigilante justice. When and how physical force can be used to protect inanimate objects (as distinguished from self-defense or defense of another person) is the subject to a long and complicated debate, but if you’re interested try googling “Katko v. Briney” and “justification defense property crimes.” (source: I’m a lawyer)

    • paul says:

      Given the facts that we have Sonya is not likely to have serious legal issues:

      - Bear spray use was likely legitimate. There are a couple of different theories she could use to justify her use of the bear spray. One is the lawful ejection of a trespasser. The owner or lawful occupant of a building can use reasonable force to make a trespasser leave. Bear spray is non-lethal force, the woman has a history of trespassers stealing her shit, etc. This was also a legitimate use of force to protect property. The woman saw the man trying to steal her property and used a reasonable amount of force to prevent him from doing so. There are a couple of other theories that would make the force legitimate, especially if they’re charging him with attempted burglary (unlawful entry of a dwelling to commit a felony). Burglary of a currently occupied house is considered a violent felony in the state of California and you can use reasonable force to stop a violent felony. The bear spray is reasonable in this case.

      - The legality of the bear spray use: We don’t know if the canister was over 2.5oz, but the police don’t have to charge every crime they observe and it is not likely that Sonya will be charged in this case as she has a really, really good necessity defense. It is unlikely a jury in SF would be interested in convicting her for illegal use of tear gas and it would be dumb of the DA’s office to pursue this charge against her (assuming she wasn’t using legal spray).

      - This is not vigilante justice. Sonya used legal force to stop a felony in progress, prevent damage to her property and to stop a burglary. This is legal under CA law and, therefore, not vigilante. She informed the police after the stopped the crime and they arrested the suspect. (Source: I’m a crim. defense attorney).

    • Marc says:

      Sue? She could be arrested and convicted of a felony far worse than the one he was committing.

      • Chris says:

        And which felony would that be?

        • Hmm says:

          Assault with an illegal weapon

          • Chris says:

            Sorry, but improper use of tear gas is a 16, 2, 3 felony (or a misdo that carries up to 1 year in county) and first degree burglary (burglary of an inhabited dwelling) is a 2,3,4 triad. So, in fact, even if she was committing a crime (unlikely), she could not be arrested for a worse felony than the one he was committing.

  14. scum says:

    Finally someone stands up to an asshole instead of just taking pictures of the crime and putting it on the internet. I have a bad feeling she will have to give the scumbag some money to settle in the end.

    • Hmm says:

      you’re so right. it’s too bad she her adrenaline high led her to brag about it (and her happiness at his pain). she should prob spend less time tweeting today, and more time lining up a lawyer. no pity for the dude at all, but she should be a little more sensible.

  15. Sonya says:

    Why blur out her profile pic and not user name?

  16. mushmouth says:

    As someone who took pictures and posted them on the internet (as I was asleep when the crime took place) I’d love to know the name (first only) of this guy arrested to see if he is the same guy who was arrested a couple of blocks from my house caught red handed trying to make off with the bikes that were enclosed, (and looked very much like the guy in our blurry photographs), found to have 80+ bikes in his apartment (although the SFPD never did show me any photos of these bikes), and eventually plead out to a single count of possession of stolen property, and given time served.

  17. ALWAYS HIGH says:


  18. simon says:

    “what a crazy bitch”

  19. Rudy says:

    Someone stole my shoes (both pairs) off my side porch, and, this morning, I had to wear flip flops. Makes me want to install surveillance cameras.

  20. Fuck a Sonya says:

    I for one am glad that the powerful were able to defeat the powerless again. Thank god for webcams, Japanese swords, and the free time to lay in wait and ambush someone for taking your toys.

  21. Cap. Obvious says:

    If there’s a serial package thief, how hard would it be to put a package with a tracking device in it and wait till you see it move on its own accord?
    Call the cops, no need to bear-spray the dude (though, if he’s really hairy, maybe the bear spray is justified…).

  22. LibertyHiller says:

    It wasn’t that long ago that UPS etc. wouldn’t leave anything that wasn’t signed for, or secured behind a gate or building door. They did this because, y’know, SF has a lot of shady people walking the street.

    I’m not sure why they changed their minds and think it’s OK to treat the Mission and Bernal like they’re Blackhawk. I have to remember to ask the driver next time a package arrives.

  23. Bernard says:

    This chic is fricken Psycho. She chased him with a sword. Ever heard of calling the Police? I feel bad for her boyfriend.