Dellums tries to calm fears over robberies

August 11, 2008 9:46:41 AM PDT
A disturbing trend is continuing in Oakland of restaurant robberies targeting businesses, and frequently the customers eating there. There have been two more crimes in the past two days. Wednesday night's takeover was at the King of King Restaurant on East 12th Street, just a few blocks from Highway 880. It is the tenth robbery in three weeks.

With every one of these robberies, the pressure mounts on Oakland's Police Department to solve them. Wednesday, police weren't talking, but Mayor Ron Dellums was. He eluded to small business owners hiring their own private security firms. Mayor Dellums also suggested bringing in the Guardian Angels.

In Oakland, what began as a robbery spree is rapidly becoming the crime du jour. Wednesday night the city was hit with its third small restaurant robbery in four days and tenth in two and a half weeks.

Christine Trieu described what happened at King of King Restaurant, just before closing time.

"They just told me, 'Open the drawer and get the money,'" said Trieu.

The King of King robbery was at least the fifth time that robbers took money from customers, too. Investigators believe it is the same gang. A security camera at Skyline Pizza showed three men with at least one gun rob the store on Tuesday night. They wear masks or hoods. They moved quickly and confidently.

On Wednesday, Mayor Ron Dellums tried to reassure the public.

"What kind of pressure have you put on the police department to get this resolved?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.
"I've been on top of them every single day. I have been in constant communication. I am meeting daily with the police chief," said Mayor Dellums.

Still, with every robbery, confidence dwindles. The attacks do not appear to have a pattern. They happen in all kinds of neighborhoods.

"Too many bad guys around here," said a man that works on East 12th Street, near the Wednesday night's robbery.
"You getting enough patrolling through here?" asked Freedman.
"Yeah. They go on freeway," said the man.
"They go to the freeway," said Freeman.
"Not stay here," said the man.

The crimes and worries are an image problem in this city that has paid money for guns to get them off the streets. It's a city with more police on the streets than any time in the past 20 years.

"Oakland does not stand out here in a vacuum. Oakland is not an isolated island and the fact that we keep talking about Oakland as if it's some kind of crime capitol of America, that is hogwash," said Mayor Dellums.

Now there's another night ahead, and with it, more random uncertainty for small business owners. The mayor says the police might have more to say Friday.

"You got to take time to try to figure out what it is we're trying to do. You don't just call a press conference to call a press conference. You call a press conference if you have something to say," said Mayor Dellums.

There has been a lot of police traffic on East 12th Street Thursday afternoon. Police thought they made a pretty good arrest Wednesday night, but it turned out to be unrelated. Oakland Police plan to speak to reporters on Friday at 11 a.m.

Click here to watch the full RAW: Mayor Dellums press conference


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