Restaurants in Oakland have been losing thousands a week as diners have their cars and jewelry robbed mid meal – with locals now avoiding the city’s downtown area.
Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is facing a recall as a result. Hundreds of locals have started a group, named Save Alameda for Everyone, in a bid to oust Price from her position because of her soft-on-crime approach.
In the same weekend, two beloved restaurant spots closed their doors after years of service because of the rampant car burglaries and violent crime on their doorsteps.
French-Vietnamese eatery Le Cheval closed its doors after 38 years, as did Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse on the same block.
Armed robbers are seen attempting to steal a car in Oakland. Violent crime is running rampant across the California city, with business owners now comparing the area to a ‘battleground’ akin to wartime Vietnam
A robber is seen carjacking a vehicle on the streets of Oakland. The total number of armed robberies in Oakland this year have reached 1282, which equates to a 43 percent rise since this time last year
Vehicle thefts are up nearly 50 percent, and home invasions by 65 percent – and Oakland police say they’ve arrested seven people in a special operation that targets car thieves
Galeto’s owner Eli Nascimento said it ‘is defiantly crime’ that caused him to shutter. He recalled how his host got robbed outside the restaurant, with three pistols to his head. He quit because he couldn’t take it anymore.
Other small business owners, including shopkeepers and gas station workers, previously announced a one-day strike to show how the out of control crime was affecting the local economy.
Derreck Johnson, owner of Home of Chicken and Waffles, said: ‘Every day we struggle with not wanting to lay off our employees.
‘I had a group from Miami get robbed at gunpoint on a Saturday afternoon, all their jewelry taken. That should not be my priority. That should not be my job, to make sure that my customers are safe while they’re walking the streets in Oakland.’
Many of Johnson’s patrons have had their luggage stolen from their cars, or been robbed at gunpoint while coming in and out of the restaurant.
The total number of armed robberies in Oakland this year have reached 1282, which equates to a 43 percent rise since this time last year.
At the same time, vehicle thefts are up nearly 50 percent, and home invasions by 65 percent – and Oakland police say they’ve arrested seven people in a special operation that targets car thieves.
Johnson, who opened his restaurant 20 years ago, previously told Fox: ‘It’s gotten to the point where actual individuals are getting robbed at gunpoint, and it’s just really affecting our business.
Derreck Johnson, owner of Home of Chicken and Waffles, said: ‘Every day we struggle with not wanting to lay off our employees’
Le Cheval was a beloved institution in the city, however it has shuttered because of the rising crime rates
Oakland’s Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse, which has had to close down because of the crime
‘Our sales are very low, I talk to neighboring businesses… it’s time to come together and figure out a solution so that it stops affecting our business because people just don’t feel safe coming downtown or to the Jack London area.
‘There’s not a day goes by that I don’t see someone stealing something out of someone’s car in Jack London. What makes me feel handcuffed is that I can’t do anything about it.
‘If I go to say something, I might get shot … Is that how we want to live? I don’t want to live like that.
‘Small businesses are the heartbeat of Oakland, small businesses are the largest employer in Oakland, and it’s very important that the city, the state, the county, everyone recognizes how important small business is.
‘I’ve had to subsidize the last two payrolls because sales have been so slow. People just don’t feel comfortable.
‘It doesn’t appear like an area where that kind of crime would be taking place in broad daylight.’
CCTV footage from outside businesses have flooded social media in recent months, showing armed carjackers making their way into vehicles – and sometimes injuring passersby.
Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is facing a recall as a result. Hundreds of locals have started a group, named Save Alameda for Everyone, in a bid to oust Price from her position because of her soft-on-crime approach
In October, police said they were investigating an armed robbery in Oakland where a man attempting to help the first victim was shot.
In August this year, shocking video emerged of a woman being pistol-whipped and dragged across gravel by two thugs in Democrat-led Oakland.
The attack happened on Wednesday August 16, 6.15pm on International Boulevard, and left the unidentified woman with severe injuries, police investigating in the East Bay city said.
Footage shows the woman being confronted by two men who try to grab several items from her, including her purse, before she’s violently struck with the gun.
She is then seen falling to the ground before being pulled along by her purse as both men rifle through her pockets.
Oakland has been hit by increasing incidents of violence – with assaults, carjackings, and robberies all reaching record highs not seen since the 90s.
As scared business owners liken the area to something out of a war flick, leaders of the NAACP’s Oakland branch have called on officials to declare a state of emergency – as incidents of auto burglary and motor vehicle theft have nearly doubled since 2021.
Speaking with several local news outlets over the weekend, Bruce Vuong, a Vietnamese national who owns an autoshop blocks from where the woman was brutalized, compared the area to his country during its infamous war.
Ironically, the neighborhood is already named Little Saigon.
More robbery scenes from across Oakland
Two armed men attempt to carjack a vehicle, seen on CCTV
‘Oakland has become a warzone,’ Vuong, who has owned and operated Quality Tech Automotive Shop on International for 35 years, told ABC’s local affiliate.
‘It feels like a battleground to go to work,’ he said, remarking how even with all his years of experience – which stems back to the city’s infamous gang violence in the 1990s – the crime seen over the past two or so years has been unprecedented.
Police also recently warned about an ‘uptick in home invasion robberies’ including cases of robbers armed with guns kicking down doors before threatening homeowners and stealing their belongings.
Oakland Police Department (OPD) said some of the worst-hit areas have been Laurel, North Hills, Joaquin Miller, and the Greater San Antonio area.
Oakland’s left-leaning mayor Sheng Thao, who has been in office since November 2022, promised to create a ‘comprehensive’ public safety plan that will ‘double down’ on violence prevention programs when she was voted in.
Last year, her predecessor Libby Schaaf admitted efforts to defund her city’s police department went ‘too far’ after it saw violent crime surge to levels not seen in 15 years following the movement’s introduction in the summer of 2020.
Her comments came after the city council passed a resolution in 2021 to defund its police department by $17 million despite a 90 per cent increase in murders – a move criticized by Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, who said at the time that ‘crime is out of control’ in the city.
‘When we saw this surge come up during the pandemic – and, let’s also be honest, after George Floyd, after this country just saw its faith in government justice compromised – we were just heartbroken,’ Schaaf added.
But crime in the city has only worsened since then.