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Police investigate after Waymo driverless car vandalized, set ablaze in SF's Chinatown

San Francisco police are investigating after a Waymo self-driving car was vandalized and set on fire in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood during a Lunar New Year celebration Saturday night. 

Video posted on social media shows the driverless car in flames on Jackson Street at around 9 p.m. 

Waymo said a crowd vandalized the car and broke the window, before someone threw a firework inside that set the car on fire. 

No one was inside the car, according to the company. 

“I heard about it within minutes of it happening last night,” said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. “My reaction is, number one: this is terrible. … It is extremely dangerous. Buildings could have been lit on fire, people could have been hurt and most importantly, this was the day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. This is one of the most important days for families, there were thousands and thousands of tourists here, partaking in the events.”

The car was gone by Sunday and Chinatown was busy, but there were still some signs of the damage in the street. 

It’s not immediately clear why the crowd gathered in the first place. Police have yet to make any arrests. People say they were shocked to see videos of the incident circulating online. 

“I was very surprised. I saw that — I said,  ‘what happened?’ Shouldn’t happen here at all,” said one man, who did not give a name.  

A San Francisco resident said he found out about what happened after the fire was out. 

“Yesterday was Lunar New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve was fine. But the day after, other people are trying to enjoy themselves. Everybody comes down toe Chinatown to celebrate,” he said. 

In a statement, Waymo said in part: “The vehicle was not transporting any riders and no injuries have been reported. We are working closely with local safety officials to respond to the situation.”

“It is the subject of an active investigation with promising leads,” Peskin said.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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