Bippers be bipping.

If you live in the Bay Area and surrounding cities or plan to visit Northern California, you’ve often heard of people getting bipped, or you’re warned to protect yourself against bippers.

So, what are bippers and what does it mean to get bipped?

Photo Credit: @DSurgeon via Instagram stories. A license plate on a Toyota in the Bay Area that reads, “Don’t BIP.”

According to Urban Dictionary, to bip is to break into a car for the purposes of stealing valuables.

Bippers are people who bip for a living, typically by themselves or in teams.

And, to get bipped is to return or wake up to your car with your car windows smashed and valuables missing.

An easy sign that a car’s been bipped is glass shards scattering the ground under the window and inside the car, and a case of bipping is seeing a long row of cars on a street with their windows broken in.

An example?

These tourists near Ghirardelli Square in SF. Yup, they got bipped.

And, here are videos of bippers bipping.

@asheratmizrahi 10,000 dolars gone #sanfrancisco #carbreakin #theft ♬ original sound – Asher
@smokinspent #livinginsf #sanfranciscolife #carinsf #sanfrancisco #carbreak #carbreakin #breakins #carbreaking #carbreakins #carbreakticktokcs #windowbroken #windowbroke #brokemywindow #brokemycarwindow #sanfranciscobreakins #carwindowchallenge #carwindowbroken #carwindows ♬ broken – lovelytheband
@thaskeptk_alpha They don’t play in #oakland Got jacked in #jacklondonsquare #robbed #bipped #jacked #crime #thebayarea #vacation ♬ original sound – The Alpha

Unofficial history of bipping

Thieves stealing valuables from cars is nothing new, ever since cars were a thing, thieves have been stealing valuables from Bay Area residents for decades.

Only in the past 15–20 years has the verb bip come up.

According to Urban Youtuber Swamp Storiez on the history of bipping,

“Bipping started around 2010 when a group of teens from the Eddy Street Projects in San Francisco started throwing spark plugs at windows.”

“What they noticed is that alarms don’t go off when the windows shattered. Since San Francisco is a tourists city, tourists leave cash, jewelry, cameras, and laptops in their cars, it was a recipe for big profits.”

These teens most likely learned that spark plug trick from local drug addicts who used that method to fund their drug habit, as opposed to these modern day bippers who bip as a profession.

A motorbike thread from 2013 highlights how San Francisco drug addicts would steal spark plugs from their bikes, the plug and plug boot easily accessible, and, after crushing the plugs, would use the ceramic pieces to break nearby car windows.

In the decade or so since the trend’s took off, bipping’s evolved into organized crime, more so than a bunch of kids stealing stuff to make a quick buck.

Nowadays, bippers work in teams with casers doing reconnaissance work, lookouts, a supply of stolen (boosted) cars to do bipping in, and specialized tools, too.

Instead of a broken piece of spark plug, bippers use emergency tools used to break windows if you’re trapped from the inside to the outside instead.

With a hardened, spring-loaded tip, these cheap, emergency glass breakers make quick work of even the thickest automotive glass.

This one’s $8.85 but you can find these as cheap as $1.49 for a two-pack.

And these bippers aren’t independent anymore; they’re efficient, organized, and often taking their orders from someone above them.

According to the SF Examiner in 2021 in a post about organized crime rings,

“Authorities believe that fewer than a dozen car break-in crews are to blame for most of the auto burglaries in the Bay Area.”

“The people at the top have been raking in huge sums of money by paying street-level criminals to do all their stealing for them, making working families miserable in the process,” says Sharky Laguana, president of the Small Business Commission (of San Francisco.)

It wouldn’t be too far from a stretch to link organized crime rings of bippers and groups who rake in literally millions in retail theft.

And scarily enough, if you didn’t already know, bippers are often armed and will not hesitate to shoot you.

Local Bay Area news outlets are full of stories of people getting shot and killed confronting car burglarers and shop liftters.

In 2021, a man was shot and killed confronting someone trying to burglarize his car.

Earlier in May of this year, a man was shot multiple times after confronting car burglars in San Francisco’s Mission District.

How to avoid getting bipped

While you can’t avoid getting bipped 100 percent, there are a few things you can do.

For one, just assume your car will be bipped while you’re away. That means, leave nothing in the car you don’t mind getting stolen.

It doesn’t matter if you cover it up, out of sight, as even covering something increases the likelihood a bipper will think you’re hiding something valuable.

Bring everything of value with you or carry it inside.

Electronics? Bring it with you.
Important papers? Bring it with you.
Stuff you JUST bought shopping and are now going to eat? Bring it ALL to the restaurant. The restaurant will understand.
Even a camping chair you keep with you just because? Haul it with you.

Contrary to popular belief about leaving windows open and signs that there’s nothing valuable inside, these tactics do not work, bippers will search through an open car or one with a sign just as quickly.

Leaving your car door or window open also invites drug addicts or seggs workers to use your car while you’re away.

With that in mind, absolutely do secure your car as best you can, Bay Area residents and tourists alike. That means lock all doors, roll up all windows, and alarm your car accordingly.

Even a cheap-o steering wheel lock can arguably prevent your car from getting bipped.

It’s not that the steering wheel lock will prevent it from being stolen, it’s to show to thieves that you’re street smart, that you’re willing to do everything possible to prevent your stuff from being stolen (implying all your valuables are not in the vehicle.)

If you rely on your laptop for life and work, make sure everything is backed up somewhere else. Even if it’s stolen, and you change your passwords on everything, you can still reconstruct your work.

If you’re visiting, if you absolutely can’t lug all your stuff with you at all times and probably need to store stuff in your car, get a rental with a trunk and use it.

Use common sense and park in an area with regular foot traffic, lighting, and hired security as deterrents.

If you can back into a space with your trunk against a wall, do it. That may make it harder to break into a trunk.

If you need to get something from the trunk or put anything inside, do it before you get to your destination, getting stuff from your trunk at your destination just alerts people you have valuables in there.

Take advantage of services like hotel bag holding services that will let you drop off your stuff with front staff before you park your car before checking in. Make sure they take your name and require it to get your stuff back.

Many large hotels will let you hold luggage, regardless of whether or not you’re staying there.

If you see or become a victim of bipping while it’s in progress, do not engage.

Instead, be the best witness possible and immediately after, call 911.

According to an actual SF Cop on the matter of engaging bippers,

“Take not of and provide suspect descriptions, vehicle descriptions, location, number of suspects, weapons involved, etc etc. That helps tremendously.”

“The moment you call 911, the call is generated and, depending on the priority, it will be dispatched accordingly. “


Until there’s a disincentive large enough to stop bipping, bippers gonna bip.

The best strategy is to assume you’re going to be bipped and secure your valuables accordingly.

And, if you’ve been bipped, report it accordingly. It may not seem like it helps, but your call and data point helps in the grand scheme of things in stopping organized crime rings at large.


Protect from car break-ins
-Car Break in frustrations


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