He said he placed his Eddie Bauer backpack containing the gun and his law enforcement credentials behind the driver's seat of his SUV, which automatically reclines when the vehicle is parked. Then he locked the SUV and headed to dinner.
When the group returned just before 11 p.m., Woychowski's fiancee was the first to notice the break-in, he testified.
"My fiancee yells out, 'Oh my God, I can't believe this,' " Woychowski testified. "The back-seat passenger side window was smashed out."
He said he called 911 and also reported the theft to his own agency. A BLM investigation found the way he transported and stored the gun did not violate the agency's policy at the time, and he was not disciplined.
Woychowski was promoted to a supervisory position in December 2015, five months after Steinle's death. The agency updated its rules in 2016 to require two-level locking of firearms in personal vehicles, according to internal polices provided to KQED by the San Francisco Public Defender's Office.
The public defender's chief attorney, Matt Gonzalez, represents Garcia Zarate, a Mexican citizen. Gonzalez is arguing that Garcia Zarate unintentionally fired Woychowski's gun within seconds of finding it wrapped in cloth on Pier 14.
Gonzalez's cross-examination of Woychowski was interrupted by repeated objections from the prosecution on the relevance of the questions. Most of the objections were sustained, meaning Woychowski did not answer.
Gonzalez referenced a BLM internal investigation memo written by a bureau special agent probing the loss of Woychowski's gun. It appeared to find the ranger violated general rules for law enforcement rangers.
"'A law enforcement officer is responsible for ensuring all authorized weapons are secure at all times,'" Gonzalez quoted from the memo. "Do you concede you should not have left this firearm in your vehicle in the way that you did?"
The prosecution successfully objected to the question and Woychowski was prohibited from answering.
Woychowski was directed to answer whether he told the BLM investigator that he typically kept the gun in the backpack with him for his family's safety.
"Yes, typically, yes," he said.
Gonzalez asked Woychowski about his familiarity with the safety manual issued with his semi-automatic Sig Sauer P239 handgun, and specifically its warning to keep the gun unloaded when transporting it.
Prosecutor Diana Garcia objected.
"He's a law enforcement officer," she said. "That doesn't apply to him."
Judge Samuel Feng overrulled the objection, and Woychowski said he didn't remember reading that warning.
The ranger testified during Garcia's questioning that he was required to keep the gun fully loaded with a round in the chamber. Gonzalez argued that rule shouldn't apply when the ranger was off duty.