GOODER AND HARDER, SAN FRANCISCO: I tracked thieves stealing my car in S.F. Then I saw firsthand what police can — and can’t — do next.

In San Francisco, a city rife with gadget-lovers and plagued by high property crime, the technology would seem to be a game changer. But in reality, situations like my stolen Subaru can often be mired in unforeseen complications.

The response by police has at times been thwarted by legal constraints — for example, an officer generally can’t enter a home just because the Find My iPhone app says your cell is inside — and at other times by what victims say feels like apathy.

Police officials say the reality is that a stolen phone, bike or even car is not as high a priority as a violent crime, so cops don’t always have time to get involved and stay involved.

The result can be maddening for victims armed with case-cracking evidence. And while police say they always advise these victims against following their valuables into potentially dangerous situations, many people told me they felt they had no choice but to go cowboy.

Looking back at Miguel’s texts from May 19, it’s easy to see how the specter of danger immediately enters the equation.

“Be careful!!!!!” “It says the car is on!” “There could be someone in the car.” “MEGAN DO NOT CONFRONT ANYONE.”

I’ll admit, the possibility of vigilantism had crossed my mind. But the SFPD jumped on our case, even though it had no idea I was a member of the media.

It’s tough to picture a Paul Kersey figure emerging in San Fran*, but not impossible — as Glenn has written, “the breakdown of law and order won’t go as [leftists] hope. Ultimately, the police are there to protect criminals from the populace, not the other way around. Get rid of the police, and armed vigilantism is what you’ll get. And what you’ll deserve.”

It’s also likely that private security forces will be on the rise, as this 2013 Reason TV video about such forces working in another leftist hellhole, Detroit spotlights:

* Classical reference.