Police on the hunt for restaurant robbers

August 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police are turning up the pressure to catch three men who pulled eight takeover robberies of restaurants, in just the past few weeks. Among the moves, they're offering a reward and calling in the Guardian Angels.

Because these robbers have been able to hit at least eight, if not more restaurants without getting caught, worried restaurant owners are asking Oakland police for help. That's because the restaurant business is suffering throughout the city.

Oakland police announced on Friday they are initiating new tactics and announced a reward in order to catch the robbers.

Nicolas Espinoza is worried that the restaurant robbers might hit his Tijuana Restaurant, even though many of his customers are police officers. He points to all the empty tables he says are usually packed on Fridays. Espinoza blames it on the last 10 restaurant robberies.

"I have empty my business right now. Because the last couple of days ago they rob over there. So people hear the news so they are scared they no coming," said Espinoza.

Shawn Klein says now she won't come in to the area to eat dinner until it is safe.

"I doubt I would want to come here in the evening time or to bring a family here or anything like that," said Klein.

Oakland police announced on Friday that help is on the way for restaurant owners and customers. They have posted a $30,000 reward for the capture of the robbers.

Believed to be in their late teens to twenties, the robbers hit late at night and take money from the businesses as well as robbing all the customers. Police believe these men have committed eight of the last 10 restaurant robberies in the city since July 16th.

"We are going to step up our walking patrols in the area. We're also going to have undercover assignments as well in this area," said Captain Rick Orozco from the Oakland Police Department.

Police stopped short of saying where those officers will be deployed. They also plan on sending out security experts to restaurants to suggest buying security cameras and showing restaurant owners what they can do to discourage robbers.

"Can police officers as they drive by see into their business? What's the lighting like outside," said Captain Orozco.

The job of protecting all Oakland restaurants is a daunting one. Police called in the Guardian Angels to help out.

"We just want to scare off the robbers. That's what we want to do we just want to be a visual deterrent," said Christina Fernandez from the Guardian Angels.

Police say they are following some leads. The Guardian Angels will be at the Grand Lake area on Friday night. Beginning at about 7:30 p.m., they will be rotating through all the restaurants until they close.

The Oakland Police said they want the Guardian Angels to be extra eyes and ears for them, and they are asking the public to report any suspicious activity around Oakland restaurants.


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